President’s Letter: June 2017

Letter from the President

Previous CMS presidents have usually used at least one President’s Message to say something about how they became interested in mushrooms. Here’s my story:

I had been happily acquainted with exactly one mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) until 1988, and I didn’t even know it’s proper name. I don’t believe I had ever actually seen a mushroom in the wild; if I did, I didn’t NOTICE it. My breakthrough year was the one when I married my wonderful husband, Peter. Like me, he was an enthusiastic cook, but he was equally uninformed about mushrooms.

Peter lived in Denver, so I moved here when we married. It was great fun to meet his many friends, one of whom was a former girlfriend of his named Janice, who had married and now lived in Laramie, Wyoming. So, one bright August morning we headed to Laramie at our friends’ invitation to come for dinner. (They loved to cook too.). When we arrived, though, we were hustled into their car for a trip to the Never-Summer range to do something I’d never heard of – hunt for wild mushrooms.

We had a wonderful day, bringing back big paper bags full of boletes and even a few chanterelles, which had been trying to hide partially concealed by a fallen log. We carried our loot back to their friends made a spectacular meal of veal under a sauce of mushrooms and tomatoes. We didn’t retire to the front room after dinner, either: we all went back to the kitchen and sopped up the last of the sauce with bits of bread. Janice’s remark to us has stuck in my mind ever after: “When the season starts, I find myself thinking of mushroom hunting, when I find them I start thinking about how I’ll cook them, and when I finish eating them, I’m already thinking about when I’ll find and cook some more.”

Not long afterward, I spotted an offering from the DBG educational program, a foray to the area around Nederland, to be led by Vera Evenson. I phoned Janice and invited her to join me on the trip. A whole new world then opened up – a world filled with mushrooms of such varied shapes and sizes, colors and odors! At the end of the day, I asked Vera how I could learn more about these wonderful gems of field and forest. Of course, she suggested that I join CMS. At my second or third meeting, Marilyn Shaw persuaded me to become membership chair, which I did for more than ten years and which gave me a wonderful opportunity to make “foraging friends” and start to learn.

The rest, as they say, is my (happy) history.

-Linda DeLeon, CMS President, 2017