In what’s usually a dry season, Kentucky is keeping true to the 2018 weather theme of rain, rain and more rain. Hot, humid weather has very few redeeming qualities in my book; however, it is good for breeding mushrooms. So when a friend told us he’d spotted a flush of chanterelles—the darling of the foraged-food world—Mr. B and I set out to do some mushroom hunting.
Disclaimer: This is not a story about how we made an amazing gourmet feast from our own secret stash of homestead-grown chanterelles. We didn’t find one chanterelle. (Well, I did find one teeny tiny mushroom that might have been a chanterelle.) This is also not a tale about how we sought chanterelles and instead came home with another equally delicious edible mushroom. We didn’t even learn the names of the mushrooms found. No, our lives aren’t that complicated.
This is a simple story about a family of three traipsing through the forest on an overcast Sunday morning, letting the land share its secrets.
Since we moved here, it’s increasingly difficult to find a balance between productivity and whimsy. Like any farm, ours has a never-ending to-do list. We constantly strive to be as efficient as possible, and with everything we do, every hobby we pick up, we look toward its potential: “What can it do for us?” Often, this is to our detriment, not allowing ourselves to simply be immersed in and enjoy the beauty that we can find all around. And goodness, if you get down and look—I mean really look—this place is amazing! What better way to delight in fanciful notions than to discover the mushrooms (toadstools, fairy perches, gnome umbrellas) tucked into every nook and cranny of the forest?
We spent two unconnected hours meandering around trees, climbing over logs and peeking under leaves. While this didn’t yield us so much as a snack, let alone a meal, we simply enjoyed that time together, gasping in wonder at the number of different sizes and shapes and colors of mushrooms we could spy, getting an up-close-and-personal glance at organic matter working ferociously to regenerate land that had once been home to cattle fields.
The little one, hanging on daddy, seemed content to gaze around at the trees, a stick in one hand and a leaf in the other, getting on the ground occasionally to inspect a nut or dig through the dirt. One could argue we could have spent the time doing something “productive”—but what good is productivity on a farm if you aren’t also relishing the landscape with those you care about most?
Perhaps it’s a stretch to say that this particular mushroom hunt taught me something. The lesson here had been on my mind for days, if not weeks, leading up to that morning in the woods. It’s that our to-do lists everything. Not every so-called “accomplishment” must be something we’re great at, or something that yields a return at the end of the day or season. As I continue to ponder this notion, I look forward to the adventure of finding more ways to add that little touch of whimsy to everyday life.