Tuesday, December 23, 2014
In a city park so dull I usually walk its half-mile path while reading my phone, I look up and see mushrooms growing high on a dead tree. Into the tangle of trees I go to investigate. What to my wondering eyes should appear at that tree's base but the hugest freaking trove of edible oyster mushrooms, each six to eight inches across (they're usually oyster-sized--not very big). Oysters have no poisonous lookalikes in Missouri.
Pinpointing the tree with GPS I get a bag from my car and remove about three pounds of mushroom--hoping no one is watching because I don't know what the laws are. An ethical forager takes only what she can use. At home, I take a spore print to confirm my ID. Poach some in beer, and roast and make quiche and pizza with the rest. They're delish. The next week, I take another four pounds and share.
Okay, I was simply super-fortunate to find an oyster log. Today I'm out puttering next to my propane tank, and spy there my first-ever Earthstar mushrooms, side by side, like petaled flowers, each with a central sphere full of spores. These are very old and dry so I can't identify which type of earthstars they are; when fresh, they're grayish-white. Earthstars are inedible. But I'm still bowled over: Earthstars at Christmas! What could top this? But something will!