Saturday, October 16, 2010

Foraging again (and again and again)

Last weekend, on Vashon, I got stung harvesting nettles without gloves.  You may have tried the fabulous nettle and mushroom soup that Jerry Traunfeld serves at his restaurant from time to time. Walking in the Vashon forest there were so many nettles along the path that I immediately thought of this soup so Mum devised a glove of a knotted a plastic bag and I snipped them off with my pocketknife.

Unfortunately,  plastic grocery bags are rather thin so after a while the nettles stung through the plastic and I had to add an additional plastic bag until the packet was full.   For many hours my hands had strange tingling sensations, like pins and needles on the surface.   The soup was fabulous.   The recipe calls for button mushrooms but, having no portabellos, we made it with chanterelles.

Chanterelles, huckleberries and nettles from Vashon

Did I mention that we found another basket of chanterelles?  And more huckleberries?  We had 8 cups of huckleberries (huckleberry de-storking is the dark side of berry stalking).  This evening, Mum made a souffle and I helped her make huckleberry jam. 

Chanterelle and Backyard Chicken-egg souffle

Huckleberry Jam
Snoqualmie Trails
Fast forward till today - Friday - when we went up to the Snoqualmie area for a hike and forage.  The weather has been beautiful.  Crisp and bright and only one recent day of rain.  As we drove past North Bend we could see that there had been the faintest dusting of snow on the high stands near the treeline.  Getting out of the car coming from Seattle it was surprisingly cold - we were glad for our gloves and woolen hats.

Wren with a bolete (probably mirabilis)

Mushroom Foraging Permits
On the way we stopped at the North Bend Rangers station to apply for a mushroom foraging pass.  The passes are free but required if you are going to the National Forest with the intent to obtain mushrooms.  If you are hiking or camping you can gather up to a gallon on a whim - but if you are off with your mushroom knife and baskets, you need a permit.

To get a permit, you need your drivers license and the car registration.  You have an annual allocation of 5 gallons per applicant but you don't need to take that all at once.  You choose how many you want and then have 14 days in which to harvest it.  I spoke to the Ranger about it and she said that the major focus right now is on getting foragers to apply for the permit.  Most people just gather what they want under the "one gallon per person" understanding.  She said they are trying to explain that one gallon does not apply if you are meaning to collect mushrooms - its only allowed if you are in the park for another purpose (much as firewood gathering is allowed while camping but one isn't allowed to come to the park to gather firewood for your house without a permit).  She mentioned that they are working on ways to make the process easier and on recording what people gather.  Right now you don't need to hand in the completed permits.

So, we got a permit.

Nobody asked to see our permit but it was a good feeling to have one.  By contrast, when Tara and I found the chanterelles we hadn't got a permit (but we were in the woods for another purpose, hey?) and we felt a bit sneaky.  Well, I did.  It was good to be open and relaxed about our baskets and purpose and to talk to other park users about collecting mushrooms.

We also bought an annual Forest Pass to park at trailheads.  That was $30.

Today, we gathered different mushrooms.  We found a few chanterelles but many angel wings (a slighter version of the oyster mushroom).  Also, we were a few days or perhaps one week late for a huge flush of honey mushrooms.  I have never harvested honey's so I had to take a few a bit past their prime for identification at the PSMS Mushroom Show tomorrow.

Yes, the show is tomorrow!

Its late.  More stories tomorrow....

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Drawing on Halloween

Wren is drawing at the kitchen table.  Yesterday, he discovered coloring in the lines and is now coloring everything he draws.   He loves to draw with sharpie - big bold outlines.

Coloring in at The Hardware Store
Wren:  This guy's bad.  I am making all the guys BAD. 

Granny:  Why are you making them bad?  Where are the good guys?

Wren:  There are NO good guys.  Except for Halloween.

Granny:  (who persists in a modern view of good and evil rather than the post-Cold-War, post-modern complexity) There are always good guys.  The good guys come and chase the bad guys away.

Wren:  No, this is specially for HALLOWEEN.   All the evil guys came and Feated them and chased them away.  They have SPELLS.  They have Freeze, Melt and so they did all that when they see a good guy and the chase-ed them away.

[Wren colors some more.]

Wren:  You color them in with YELLOW they are EVIL.  So this guy is yellow.]

[Silence and deep thought]

Wren:  Well, the scorpion thing is good.  I am going to be a Superhero for Halloween.  Actually, I am going to be a Good Archer. 

[Long pause of drawing]

Wren:  Actually, the scorpion guy is BAD.  He is the Boss.   I need another piece of paper. 

"This is the Bad Rock Monster
and his little Ninja Friends."

Shannon:  Who is this guy with teeth?

Wren:  He is a Rock Monster.   He is the Bad rock Monster.

[Long pause where the only sound is the pen squeaking on paper]

Wren:  I need more paper.

Granny:  One sheet or two sheets?

Wren:  Two sheets.   I am drawing a big Boss Knight with all his little knights. 

[Long pause while drawing.  I am typing.  Granny is trying to order David a sweater on but it keeps redirecting her to the US site.]

Wren:   Now I am ready to decorate.  I need scissors.

[Scissors materialize.  His wish is Granny's command]

I am cutting out the rock monster

Wren [cutting while singing]:  Halloween dot com.  Halloween dot com.  Halloween dot com.  Hallow BOOM.  Halloween BOOM.  Halloween wah wah wah wha!   Where is my tape?

[Tape appears]

Wren runs into his bedroom still singing.

Wren:  I get some more Halloween decorations!
"This shows about putting up my Halloween Decorations
The Boss Bruno, Scorpion H and The Boss Finest Scorpion Mage"

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Vashon Vacation - The Fungi Thing Again

We are over on Vashon for a few days watching ships going by and eating chanterelles, again.  Having Mum here during fungi-season has raised my enthusiasm exponentially.  Now I have someone to go on hikes with, encourage my identification and most importantly eat the mushrooms.  Having two adults keen on fungi has convinced Wren that mushroom foraging is an important life skill and he is willing to come out into the forest and Find Mushrooms, carry a basket and Dentify them.

Wren setting off to forage on Vashon
 This morning we went hunting in Island Center Forest where we collected huckleberries and were stung by nettles (me).  It was somewhat nerve wracking because the forest was open for hunting.  We wore bright orange vests provided at the parking lot and made a lot of noise as we stomped through the forest. In the distance we heard gunshots from time to time and Joshua told us that "many people get shot by mistake each year."  Apparently, season is now open for shotguns and handguns although it will be suspended on October 15th.

Perhaps the threat of being killed had kept foragers away because there were many huckleberries and chanterelles to be had.

I gather huckleberries to the sound of gunshots

Wren was concerned about dogs but not guns. 
He carried the huckleberry basket

While crouching in the undergrowth we
made lots of noise to show we were not deer.

Huckleberries and a few blackberries for pie.

Mum and Wren show that they are Not Bears or Deer
because forest animals do not like orange
 Back at the house (and at home) we have been vigorously identifying mushrooms, possibly edible or not.  Today, we identified Boletus Flaviporous, Phlebia Tremellosa and the birch bolete (a splendid specimen).  I have a small sketch book which I do rough diagrams in and then write in identification notes.  This is mainly about remembering features and names and has helped me to learn a number of new mushrooms recently.  I still covet a microscope but I believe that the type required to see spores (for identification of many mushrooms) is pretty expensive. 

Mushroom identification after the Hood Canal trip

I do not know what this one is... perhaps a lactarius?
It has an interesting velvet furred stem.
 After we survived hunting season and had hunted our mushrooms, we headed to the Vashon Rosterie coffee shop and enjoyed one of those delicious spinach and feta croissants.  I paid a visit to the bookshop on Vashon Highway and bought a copy of Chanterlle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares by Greg Marley.  He is an East Coast author so lacks a bit of the NW Fungal culture, but it captures the spirit of fall and is about mushrooms in culture rather than their identification so its a fun counterpoint to Mushrooms Demystified for which I require google on hand to define botanical terms.

Coming home tomorrow after a drive down to Burton.  Mum and I plan on having one more walk in the woods but without the intent to crawl through huckleberries.

Chanterelles with Company

On Friday, we headed over to Hood Canal to hunt mushrooms.  The expedition was in search of FUNgal Knowledge but we allowed that we would gather chanterelles if they were in evidence. 

They were!
Shannon and Tara disheveled from crawling through huckleberry undergrowth
First, we had trouble leaving the parking lot because there were so many mushrooms to observe and collect.  These were not species I was sure of although there were many russula which I have reason to believe were the edible brevipes.   Wren is obsessed with gathering mushrooms and tells me he is going to be a scientist when he grows up, "the kind of scientist who Dentifies Mushrooms not Volcanoes".

Gathering along the path

For "Dentification" by Wren

He draws wonderful pictures of mushrooms with stems and caps and sometimes gills or dots (for boletes) and as he collects mushrooms he tells us that "These are eat-poisonous not touch-poisonous" and puts them in his basket.

"Look at the BIGGIE!"
 By contrast, Alex was only concerned with edible mushrooms and kept his basket empty "for chanterelles."  When we came to chanterelle country Alexander was keen to have every chanterelle that was found put in his basket and soon had a good pile, collected one by one.  Later, we came to thickets where white chanterelles were fairly abundant, often under logs and underbrush, growing more sparsely than the yellow chanterelles we found before but much larger and in beautiful condition.

We collected many and Tara, Mum and I became very excited and crawled and thudded through the underbrush in chase.  Tara and I are both enthusiastic foragers and ignored the needs of children and family in order to clamber through the forest after our 'trail of mushrooms'.   Aware of the chance of being lost, from time to time we yelled "we're here!" but I doubt anyone lost track of us with all the callooing and hollering:

Tara:  "I have found The Mother!"
Shannon "I have found her Sister!"
Tara:  "The Mother!"
Shannon:  "Crawl, Frost, crawl!"
Shannon:  "No Frost, you can DO IT!"
"Waa waaa waa"  <---- Wren
Tara:  "FRED, bring the basket.  HERE FRED!"
Fred:  "How did you get in there?"
Shannon:  "You crawl, its really clear about 18" from the ground."
Tara:  Oh, FRED, over here.  You must bring it closer!
Shannon:  "We should send the children in.  Alex, here is one for you."
Alex: "How do you get in there?"
Shannon:  "Creep and crawl!"
Frost:  "I am getting OUT of HERE"

Foraging for a Big One


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Bremeton Ferry Yesterday

Frost recalls, "I was actually really scared of feeding the seagull because when we were trying to feed them they snatched the food very quick and I had a small piece of cracker in my hand and I was holding it up and the seagull JUST MISSED IT one time and I could actually hear his beak snapping shut!"

Close enough to hear the snapping of a seagull's beak.
Alex was also part of the seagull feeding.  Frost and he ran all over the ferry looking for bits of food to feed the seagulls.  At one point they were crawling (bare footed) under the chairs looking for crackers.  They looked like urchins. 

At one point Frost and Alex asked me for 15c.  "Someone gave me a dime," said Alex.  People are always giving Alex money!  They bought one small packet of saltines from the cafeteria and then fed them to the gulls.  When Alex had one left but Frost had none there was an 'argument' over the remaining cracker.  Frost felt that some prior sharing demanded recompense.

But that's NOT FAIR.  I gave you some of mine!

Wren wanted to be part of the adventure and rushed after the boys.  When they went too quickly he came back in tears and I escorted him to find them. 

"I must ALWAYS FOLLOW THE BOYS!" said Wren, who considers himself a diminutive 9 tween.  "I love the boys!"

"I must ALWAYS follow the boys"

The chocolate box shot of Seattle

Sounders Open Cup Win

On Tuesday, the whole family went to watch the Sounders FC vs Columbus Crew in the finals of the Open Cup.   Although Josh is a season-pass holder and a regular Fan, it was Wren's first visit to the stadium.  He was awed by the noise and crowds but wasn't overwhelmed. 

When the Sounders score a goal, small rectangles of slippery foil paper are shot out of a cannon in the stadium roof along with huge booming noises.  As the clouds of silver twinkled down over the crowds the boys reached out to collect small pieces and then throw them again.  They also liked watching the fans waving huge flags, hollering, stomping and clapping and keeping up with the SEEEAAAATTTLE, SOUNNNNNDDDDEERRSSS chant.

Not so much on the game.
The sparkly cannon fires at the end of the game
when the Sounders have won.

Frost posing in front of our seats

Both boys were more interested in making sure they got their share of the lemonade, pretzel and fries than plays but at their age is still more about atmosphere and the ultimate "WHO WON?" question. 

Wren puts it like this:  "Which is the Bad Team?   Did the Bad Team win?"

In this case, "the good team won, 2.1" and took the Open Cup for the second year in a row.

Josh is pleased because the Good Team won

We were lucky to be in a section where people sat down for most of the game
so we didn't have to hold the kids up the whole time

Wren became a bit tired by the end of the game but
enjoyed watching trains go by on his own 'break' to play