By Wayne William Cipriano
It finally warmed up. It finally rained a little. It’s probably getting close to mushroom season! Pretty soon we’ll see plastic-bread-bag-bearing individuals gliding through the woods selectively harvesting wild fungi.
It’s a lot more exciting than it sounds. I’ve been told that if you pick the wrong type of mushroom you can eat it in the emergency room of a hospital and you are still going to croak – there is nothing they can do for you.
Now, that might just be another of those rural myths circulated by avid mushroom hunters to keep the collecting competition out of the woods, but it has surely worked for me. I’ve never had the requisite courage to eat mushrooms I’ve picked nor the lack of social conscience to give them to others and wait around to see what happens.
This has a decided downside. Mushrooms, the ones that don’t kill you (if deadly mushrooms actually exist) are delicious. And, they are relatively expensive. I think they are about the only canned food item that is sold by drained net weight as opposed to the net weight of most canned goods, which includes the liquid in which they are packed. Still, no matter how penurious I become as I age, I continue to avoid hunting mushrooms.
Our neighbor and good friend, Bob Day, has gathered mushrooms all his life and must be very good at it. He is still alive. He has, in the past, offered to take me with him and point out the “good ones”, and as I said, he knows what he is doing ‘shroom-wise’.
But, if he or I, or both of us were to make just one slight mistake, which of us would be able to do the driving to a hospital?
And, why would we bother even going?