Picking Mushrooms Is No Picnic, But We Love It Here In Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Searching for and picking edible mushrooms has long been a tradition here in the “coal regions” of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Each ethnic groups had it’s own traditions and picked different species of the many edible mushrooms that grow in our woodlands and countrysides.
Today I decided to look for the hen of the woods (known around here as a ranshead or sheepshead) mushroom and chicken mushroom. That is a chicken mushroom pictured above. These species of mushrooms grow mainly on oak trees in these parts and looking for and finding them can be quite an ordeal.
Since mushrooms usual grow in the same area year after year we mushroom pickers are very secretive about where we find them so there will be no photographs of where I hiked today but just some of the mushrooms and things i found on the way, such as this older milky cap or milker mushroom. They also grow in oak woods but they are just about out of season now.
I always check trees where I found mushrooms before and some of them are growing on old oaks or oak stumps in thick woods. Today I had to crawl through a lot of brush and thorns on my search. and have plenty of cuts and scratches to prove it.
Another obstacle is the numerous spider webs that hand in the underbrush. A spider web to the face is not a pleasant experience, especially if the spider is on it.it is very hard to get the sticky threads of the web off your skin.
Mosquitoes, wasps, bees, gnats and ticks are also an annoyance that I have just gotten used too. It has been dry here so there were not as many mosquitoes as earlier in the Summer and I was lucky to not have to pull any ticks off today. The bees and wasps usually leave me alone, unless I accidentally step on a nest which hasn’t happened for a while now. The biggest annoyance today were the swarms of gnats that flew into my eyes, ears and nose.
It got warmer today so i was pretty hot but, despite all of these annoyance I still love to be in the woods. So peaceful and you never know what you may find. Last week I encountered a bear in a tree but today all I saw where a lot of frogs jumping into the ponds, a few chipmunks and a lot of birds. They are starting to migrate now and I saw a lot of robins gathering together to prepare to head south. I only had my macro lens with me so no photographs but did find this feather.
I was lucky to find the mall, but fresh, chicken mushroom, pictured above, growing on an oak stump. They get woody and tough very quickly but this one was perfect. I headed back with my treasure still checking any oak tree i came across. No mushrooms but plenty of signs Summer is ending, including an abundant crop of acorns on the oak trees.
It was a long and tiring walk but I love the woods and i will have a nice meal of fresh chicken mushroom tonight. I can’t wait to get back out there tomorrow. Here is a link to some more photographs I took on my hike today. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-5/nggallery/blog-photos/mushroom-walk-august-29-2015
“what it is…is a place where I can return to myself. It’s enough of a scramble to get to…that the energy expended is significant, and it translates into a change in my body chemistry and my psychological chemistry and my heart chemistry…”
― Jay Salter