Mushroom Week, Day Six: Fly Agaric

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Amanita muscaria

This picture of beautiful fly agaric, or fly amanita, was sent to its by Nathan’s mom in northern Wisconsin. It is psychoactive and poisonous. Mostly it is awe-inspiring.

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October Mushroom Week, day four: The Fascinating Lobster Mushroom

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Lobster Mushroom

The Lobster Mushroom (Hypomyces lactifluorum) is a parasite. It needs a host, usually Russula or Lactarius. It covers the host with pimply, orange (orange-red, purple-red, sometimes yellow-red) tissue. It transforms the host mushroom into a firm, thick-gilled fungus.

We found this one, enveloping a Russula brevipes (short-stemmed Russula) along the Drift Creek Falls Trail last weekend. After looking up the Russula, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for it. Not because it had a parasite, but because it is much hated.

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Russula brevipes

The broad cap pushes up the duff in a way that makes Bolete-lovers salivate. When they lift the needles and leaves to find a plain old, not-so-yummy Russula, their disappointment leads them to label the poor little brevipes “mundane”, “tedious”, even “vulgar”.

I found the common mushrooms beautiful with creamy gills and dirty, broad convex cap and curled under margins.  They were fun to discover poking up from under the fir needles. But they were dazzling in their red Hypomyces lactifluorum armor. Delicious, too.

I get just about all my information about species and identification from Mushrooms Demystified (Arora, 1979). General mushroom knowledge from Mycelium Running (Stamets, 2005).

October Mushroom Week! Day One: The Golden Chantrelle

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Golden Chantrelles, Oregon Coastal Range
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Gills (attached and running down stalk)
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Chicken and Chantrelle Pot Pie
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The day's catch (no more than 30% of total patch)
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Dry sautee chantrelles to retain a firm texture

The beautiful golden chantrelle peeks from undisturbed fir needles in back of our little property. What a glorious sight, to happen on a bountiful patch of golden chantrelles. The feeling, after clambering through the branches up the hill and arriving at the top where they were growing in sunny abundance, was like reading Wordsworth’s I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.

When all at once I saw a crowd, a host of golden chantrelles.

To dry sautee chantrelles, brush gently and well. Pull out pine needles (we do this on site, over the ground.) Slice them. Put them in a skillet over medium – medium-high heat. Salt. Stir constantly. The mushrooms will give off liquid. Cook in their own juices until the juice evaporates. Add a pat of butterand cook 5 minutes more. Add garlic (or whatever, or nothing) cook 2 – 3 minutes longer, or until the Room smells so good, it knocks your socks off.

Chicken pot pie was made with sauteed mushrooms, chicken, carrots, potatoes, celery, onion & white sauce in a fresh pie crust.

A Noiseless Patient Spider

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I said one last insect before getting back to work, but I didn’t say anything about spiders! I couldn’t resist this little beauty stretched out among the pansies.

A noiseless patient spider
   by Walt Whitman

A noiseless patient spider,
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.