Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Friday, 7 September 2012
The hunt is on
What a great autumn this is shaping up to be. I have high hopes for many romps through the newly carpeted woodland around here, knife in pocket, ready to pounce on unsuspecting mushrooms.
A couple of years ago, I did a whole post - in real time - about one single mushroom hunt, to illustrate the whole point of the exercise, which is to place oneself in a completely different and focused state of mind, rather like some active form of meditation. The mushrooms are a bonus - if you find any.
I would imagine that under-water sports divers have a similar experience, but a little more magnified by limited oxygen and the constant demands made on them in the simple process of trying to stay alive. My car mechanic regularly goes diving (usually in the warm waters off the Egyptian coast) and he says that the best thing about being down there is that nobody can call you up on the phone. I think that must be one of the most under-stated justifications ever given for a leisure-persuit I have ever heard, but he does have more than his fair share of testosterone.
For the past few years, a combination of poor harvests and clay-shooting have severely limited my woodland walks, but this year I have decided to pretty much give up shooting for the 'season', and I have a sneaky feeling that those pesky mushrooms think it is now safe to pop their heads above ground.
I may even go up to my ex-girlfiend's huge estate (yes, I know, I should have married her) in the Scottish Highlands, where bumper crops of edible fungi are as predictable as snow in Northern Ontario. She gave me a copy of the best identification book for mushrooms ever written, and against each photo there is a little hand-written note stating when and where a specimen was found.
When we went to her wedding up there (yes, I know, it should have been me) in the huge house overlooking their private loch, we flew to Glasgow and picked up a Mercedes hire car for £12 a day, then drove another 3 hours - only about 3 hours because we caught a ferry across a small stretch of water which cut the journey by 2 hours.
H.I. had always said that she hated Scotland, and I never knew why since up until that point, she had never been there. As we drove through the breath-takingly gorgeous glens and battlefields, flanked by heather-tinted mountains and peat-black lochs, she quietly said, "This place is really beautiful."
I had been telling her that for about 40 years.