– Guest post by 2019 member Alyssa Hartson
There are two types of people in this world- Those who hunt mushrooms and those who do not. The likelihood of you ever meeting a wishy-washy mushroom hunter is slim to none. It isn’t a sport to be taken lightly, but rather one that you will find yourself fully immersed in and that will become a consuming obsession without you even realizing it.
One day you’re just a normal person, buying mushrooms in a store like everyone else. Then a small voice inside your head reminds you of the mushrooms you saw growing in your yard earlier that day and you think “I wonder if they’re edible?” So you grab your phone and start Googling mushrooms, and next thing you know, you’re in the woods with a basket,a mushroom knife, your trusty copy of ‘Mushrooms of the Rocky Mountain Region’, crouching on the side of a mountain holding a giant boletus rubriceps with both hands, cooing to it. You look around suspiciously to make sure no one is near you who will try to steal your precious, cradling it close to you to protect it, and it hits you that not that long ago, you didn’t know an agaricus from an amanita. You realize you’ve become one of the Mushroom People, and that you’ve never felt more satisfied with life than right now, holding your big, beautiful mushroom.
There are common characteristics of Mushroom People all around the world. We all share a passion for the world of fungus that runs deep. We respect and care for the earth a great deal. We’re a superstitious bunch, believing such things as ‘if you don’t pick up trash while you’re hunting, you won’t find a single mushroom’.
We all have secret spots that we will never, ever share with anyone, so please don’t ask. We’re willing to share basic knowledge, but believe that everyone has to put in the time to figure things out for themselves- you never get good at anything unless you practice, practice, practice!
It’s an “all or nothing” type of hobby. We speak the mushroom language and forget that most people don’t and are generally mycophobic. People think we’re a little crazy, but we know it’s not US who are the crazy ones. This our way of life, our passion and our driving force, for at least 6 months out of the year. The other 6 months are spent yearning to hunt, cheering every time it storms, dreaming of finding bounties of them and planning for the upcoming spring morel season.
So, what is the problem with Mushroom People? Nothing, as far as we are concerned.