My mother is a keen mushroomer. From September she is out scouring the woods for chanterelle, the elusive hedgehog mushroom, or spying in the fields for bluets, puffballs (need to be lightly fried in pancake batter) or the slightly disgusting inkcaps. I’ve even eaten the controversial beefsteak tree fungus which looks and tastes disconcertingly like rare, rather high beef. Most people in M’s village share her enthusiasm and the good spots are guarded jealously. Do not even consider asking me in the comments section where to look for field mushrooms in the vale of Blackmore, for I cannot tell you. No. Really. I can’t.
This afternoon we went looking for mushrooms. There were rumours of a great hoard in meadows near the river in ***** and the entire family (Mr S, Big Mike, Mrs Mike and brood, M and Bumble the dog) all traipsed out with baskets to hunt. Nothing. Not a whiff of a mushroom to go with our wild goose.
But, it was rather magical. The small and medium sized nieces scrumped apples and blackberries instead and went back to grandma’s to bake a pie. I do feel in these autumn days that I have slipped into a nostalgic children’s book, where small people roam free across the fields and the harvest moon shines low across the golden woods.
Last week we had great fun with Jocasta (editor) and her family. As I said, I think she was slightly bemused by the somewhat literal tour of one of her writer’s imaginations. But, at this time of year, I think that all of us feel that we’re about to slip into story-book world.
Driving home tonight, the mist was thick as steam and an owl cried out in the dark. I bet it knew where the mushrooms were hidden.
And if you look closely, I’m sure that you can see the owl perched high in the oak tree.