(This is part of my 7 Day series on my trip to Vermont last year at this time. Sorry for the brief break in posting. Each day I will post a photo, and then a brief story or synopsis related to the photo. Please follow me on Instagram @indeepoutdoors for more like this!)
I had basically never foraged for anything prior to 2019 (beyond some basic survival skill I learned in Boy Scouts). However, I really wanted to learn, and I had a couple ideas for articles that included foraging and fishing together. Conveniently, my good friend Silas is not only a classically trained chef, but also an avid forager of mushrooms, and was currently living in my home town at the time (after living in Texas for many years). It was a golden opportunity for me to “kill many birds with one stone”, and I approached him early in the year about working on several articles and social media campaigns together. We hatched a plan together before I arrived, and had big goals.
Then, over the six days I was in Vermont last year at this time, I spent many hours with Silas hiking, foraging, and fishing. I learned an immense amount about where to find mushrooms, and what to look for, and how to avoid dying by eating something extremely toxic. I was actually surprised how much I enjoyed the “treasure hunt” sensation of searching for the mushrooms. As someone who likes to be very active, and as such soured on bird watching, I thought walking slowly staring at the ground and low trees would be boring. It was not. It was almost hypnotic, entrancing, even in the midst of an intense conversation with Silas about some deep philosophical belief. Time passed very quickly.
I also learned a lot about trying to do a field piece when things aren’t in season; we found what we were looking for, but due to a very cold winter, and a cool and wet spring, the mushrooms were much delayed and we hiked many miles looking for our [intensely] meager haul. As a result, the pieces we planned still need some further work; and some of them were never even started. Yet, I think a couple of them may be finished up this season. We’ll see. The mushroom season is just about peaking, or even coming down the other side, here in Southern New England- and up where Silas is, it’s really taken off this past week.
However, in addition to learning about mushrooms, it was a great opportunity for me to reconnect with someone I had hardly seen over the last 10 years. Silas and I reforged our strong friendship, and ultimately my time with Silas was the best part of the entire trip. While Silas and I don’t share precisely the same passions, passion is passion, and it’s contagious. I think the thing we both respect so much about each other is our drive to pursue a “renaissance” lifestyle filled with a broad spectrum of various past times, hobbies, sports, and intellectual endeavors.
And so, while the five or six pieces remained unfinished, I’m almost happier that way; and I might not finish them until we can do so together. Start some new pieces, certainly; I want to start learning to be self-sufficient as a forager.
But the more unfinished work that remains, the more excuses there are to wander around in the woods of Northern Vermont with a friend, discussing Industrial Metal music and looking for Chicken of the Wood.
Here’s to never finishing that last piece.