So I have been off the coast for more than a week, on an epic road trip to Saskatchewan. The reason for this trip, was to help my mother transition from independent living to living in a care facility.This is one of those water-shed experiences of life, when you come to the realization that your parent, who has always been there, to nurture and love you, who has always been strong and independent, can no longer carry that burden of self care any longer.
It is a hard realization to accept that one is no longer able to look after your self. It is an admission that you are aging and that you really are not immortal, and will not live forever.
My siblings and I have been talking about this day for some time, as being inevitable. However it was my mother who made the decision. As she said…”I have no choice, I can no longer live alone, as it is just too hard”.
She is moving into an intermediate care facility, where she has her own room and own bathroom, but the facility will provide her with meals, clean her room, do her laundry, assist with her bathing and provide her with medication. She will also take her meals with the other residents in the common dining room.
Even though it was her decision, it will be a hard transition. Life is about transitions, from childhood to young adult hood; leaving home and going to school; finding love and becoming a parent; moving into mid-life and new work; seeing your children grow and leave home; retiring and the watching as the hair thins and turns from brown to silver.
So where are the mushrooms in this story? Well…..the end of August is suppose to be a good time generally for mushrooming most places in Western North America.
My trip took me through the Coastal Range, the Selkirks and the Rocky mountains…then through the foot hills and into the parkland of middle Alberta and Saskatchewan. Somewhat, but not quite like Tolken’s Middle Earth. I was on a quest to find unique and unusual fungi.
I was very optimistic about seeing a few mushrooms along the way !
Well, I have to say that there were not many sightings on my way out to the prairies….I stop at one rest-stop in the Alberta Rockies and all I found was one small Lacaria. It was so pathetic, I didn’t even take a picture.
I was in a bit of a rush to get out to Saskatchewan, so I didn’t stop at many places along the way. Truth be told, I was hoping to find a nice stand of Birch so I could poke around in the hope of finiding some Chaga. I saw lots of Birch along the highway, but the problem was that there were also big strong game fences lining the highways. Kept the deer and other game off the road and me out of the bush.
The other obstacle was the everywhere I saw some promising shrooming area, there were also signs saying “Private Property – Keep Out”.
I did a bit of bush whacking around my home town, but found no fungi. The only thing of interest I did find were several bushes covered in these beautiful golden-orange berries. I did a bit of research and identified them as golden currents. I didn’t take a picture, but here is a stock picture.
I spent two days in the Quapelle Valley at a friend’s B&B with two of my brothers. We took a walk every morning and on one of those walks we found what I believe to be an older Agarcius Augustus
On a poplar log I also found oyster mushrooms, Pleurotus ostreatus, looking exactly like what I pick out here on the coast
On my trip back to the coast, I had one of many pit stops, this one just outside of Valemont. Right there, beside the pull off I found a couple of beauties ..
This I believe to be be Agaracus Augustus. The recent rain had swelled and then split this baby.
Just a few feet away, recently pushing up through the turf was an great example of an Agaracus campestris, or the common meadow mushroom
It’s hard to see, but the cap is white and the gills are pinkish in colour. I jumped back in the truck and started off down the Yellow Head highway and just as I started to pick up speed, I saw a whole field of mushrooms to my right. I was tempted to stop and turn around, but there was a semi coming up on my tail, so I just put the petal to the metal and drove on by.
Around mid morning and just outside Clear Water, I needed another pit stop ( coffee, water and Red Bull sustained me on those 12 hour driving days) I pulled into the Thompson River Provincial Camp site. When I got out of the truck on the banks of the Thompson, I was in he middle of a beautiful Birch forest.
Once I had finished attending to my biological needs, I did a little foray into the woods. Here is what I found and collected
Piptoporus betulinus, also know as the Razor strop; Birch conk and the Birch Poloypore.
This fungus has been a very important medicinal mushroom that humans all over the northern hemispheres have used for thousands of years. Oetzi, the 5,000 year old Ice Man was found with this polypore in his kit. It ‘s not sure if he used it to carry a glowing coal from camp to camp, or used it for medicinal purposes.
Robert Rogers in his book The Fungal Pharmacy tells it t his was ” To sum up, Razor strop possesses anti-fungal,anti tumor,anti-inflammatory, anti viral and anti bacterial activity. That’s a lot of medicine in one mushroom. If I were traveling through the Alps and need to travel lightly and quickly, I too would have taken along this multipurpose survival kit.
The rain came this last Wednesday here on the coast I am told, and I also here that Lobster Mushrooms have been found. I think I will take a little stroll myself to see what is popping up.
Hope to see you on the trails some days… Coastalshroomer.