October and november . Mushroom season in the woods . This year was atypical on this regard , it's been so dry since last winter. When I first scouted the woods at the end of september somewhere in the Loire valley, I could not
find anything . the ground was desperately dry . Nothing . Not even in woods where I usually found plenty of them at this time of the year . Then comes october , and after a few rainstorms and lots of sun again , things went back to normal , with moisture on the ground , smell of rotting dead leaves, and mushrooms ... Mushrooms make a peculiar dish, not really vegetables , not really meat, and I have no clearly definite wine colour choice to go with them . Reds are favorite , but with B.'s advice, I sometimes opt for a white . We'll see what we choose this time .
The mushroom season comes with the hunting season in France . I often walk into woods along wich posts signs say : "Chasse à Gros Gibier - Tir à Balles", meaning deer- or wild boar hunting under way with high powered rifles . Doesn't really scare me . I'm more at risk riding my motorcycle in Paris than getting shot by a stray bullet in woods where hunting is in progress . It just adds some excitement and spice to my own (mushroom) hunting .
As a photographer, I can say the light at this particular season is terrific . Just walk randomly in the woods, away from the beaten paths,
trying not to be lost with keeping in mind the sun direction, and you will see the nature as if you were the first human being walking there . In autumn, the light is more horizontal and the underwoods get additional colours with many shades of yellow and red found in the falling leaves , and the unexpected colour range of discreet or bright mushrooms .
I fall upon many types of mushrooms ( I am quite sure some of them being magic mushrooms ) , but I narrow my pick on two types : Cepes ( Boletus ) and "Pieds de Moutons" in french . Armed with a cheap 100-yen japanese folding knife and a supermarket plastic bag, I walk through glades, flattening a few ferns with my boots so as they don't touch my pants : There is a down side in this paradise : the ticks, maybe due to the high number of wild animals around .
Zen and the Art of picking mushrooms... You have no idea how this sport can give lessons for the daily life . You park along a secondary road, walk straight into the woods : This is an act of faith . why did I choose this spot ? And while it may happen that you find your first boletus the very second you jumped the road ditch into the woods , sometimes you keep walking randomly under the trees for 20 minutes without any find . That's when you must keep your spirits high and focused and your eyes keen . Then comes unexpectedly a bunch of big ones in a single spot .
I'll delicately pull this one off my find, cut the boletus neatly at ground level and there will be one more in the bag . Usually, when I see a boletus I first look around before kneeling, and scan the immediate vicinity for additional ones, as they are rarely alone .