August 25, 2006

Mushroom days - 2

With thunder in the distance, M. and I took a walk in the Wet Mountains on Thursday looking for mushrooms.

We walked into a mother lode of hawk's wing mushrooms (Sarcodon imbricatus), getting that crazy mushroom visual effect where you see one and then suddenly your eyes adjust and you realize that you are surrounded.

I think the king bolete-hunters had already been through, because we were finding only a few old ones (and we were close to the access road), while other similar-appearing mushrooms had been knocked over but left in place.

Then, in a tight, doghair stand of little firs that we had to push into head-down, we found a sackfull. It's like elk hunting: "They're in the thick timber, boys."

The book in the photo is, of course, Vera Stucky Evenson's Mushrooms of Colorado and the Southern Rocky Mountains.

To stay bemushroomed in the literary sense, read Andy Letcher's Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom, which is actually about much more than Amanita and Psilocybe.

For one thing, Letcher demolishes R. Gordon Wasson's distinction between "mycophobic" and "mycophilic" cultures with clear historical evidence.

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