Another day of break has brought another adventure into the beautiful woods around Mt. Hood. Today, my boss Zach, his friend Chhay (pronounced ‘chai’), and I headed out to the area around Timothy Lake to hunt for Pine mushrooms (matsutake) and to Zigzag to hunt for golden chanterelles. The pine’s were sparse and tough hunting, which might explain why they can go for $3k a kilo in Japan. The chanterelles too seemed to be hiding, which brought out some frustration as we seemingly wandered around the woods in vain.

Stolen corporate art used without permission - vine maples turning golden.

Borrowed corporate art used without permission - Vine maples turning golden.

The vine maples just above the road in Zigzag have started to turn their fall colors, and their stands bore a magnificent harvest of golden leaves. To my frustrated self, walking uphill in a glacial wash, climbing over downed oldgrowth, their golden leaves were an annoyance as they littered the ground with the same color as my fugitive fungus. While I’m not sure what snapped me out of myself, I did look up for a brief moment, turning my eyes away from my feet, towards the cannopy. I paused. I couldn’t believe how beautiful that which I was just cursing was, arching above me in the dappled sunlight, turning the world around me a beautiful golden color. My mood lightened, and I walked on.

Oddly, it seemed that as soon as I stopped looking so hard and started enjoying myself in my surroundings, the mushrooms revealed themselves to me. They would peek, here and there, from underneath the leaves of sword ferns, or at the root of fallen logs, and their discovery almost always heralded the discovery of a pack of their fellows in the surrounding duff. I was like a child at Christmas, blessed with a bounty I had not expected.

We left the mountain, happy, tired, and laden with mushrooms that we’d worked hard for. I feel really lucky to have had the chance to hunt- every time that something gets me frustrated, it reveals a little bit of resistance in me, and gives me insights into myself. And, furthermore, I am now laden with delicious mushrooms, just waiting to be dry sauteed and treated with butter and garlic and shared with friends.