We’re smack bang in the middle of mushroom season, this week I’ll tell you why I’m such a big fan of mycelium.
Happy Friday friends.
When the kids were little we’d spend many a happy hour on cold damp misty mornings in the woods nearby, treasure hunting for one of Nature’s and Autumn’s greatest prizes, wild mushrooms. I say many a happy hour, but quite often they’d be getting fed up and cold and I’d be all like an excited puppy shouting “quick! Over here, look at this one!”
They’re both grown up now, but will still send me a picture of any mushroom they stumble upon.
But why my fascination? Well there are lots of reasons, not least that many of them are very good for you nutritionally, but also because they can be absolutely delicious.
A couple of giant parasol mushrooms sauteed off in butter, parsley, sea salt and cracked black pepper then enjoyed on toasted sourdough with a little lemon juice squeezed over is a thing of pure joy in my book.
At this point I must warn you to NEVER eat a wild mushroom or anything else you have foraged unless you are 100% sure you know what you are doing. Even with a guide book you should not take chances as some fungi are poisonous and deadly.
That said, you don’t have to eat them to appreciate them. As the cooler temperatures arrive by end of September the damper conditions allow the forests, fields and verges to explode with activity, and a Sunday walk in your local woods can be made even more enjoyable by trying to spot what has sometimes quite literally appeared overnight.
On the forest floor or on rutting tree stumps or even up on Birch tree trunks you will spot mushrooms and fungus. They are the fruiting bodies of Mycelium. Now this is where it gets really good.
Mycelium is the vegetative part of the fungus, a mass of thread like carpets under the soil and attached to decaying matter like fallen leaves. These form a mat covering large areas crucial to the ecosystems we depend on sharing nutrients with plants and other organisms.
I know! I told you they were clever.
I couldn’t really find a song that linked to this weeks blog as they tend to all be about the magic ones, so I settled on the much safer Beatles tune, We’ll get by with a little help from our friends to celebrate the important contribution to humanity mushrooms make.
Meanwhile, science looks for evermore useful ways to harness their super-powers. For every problem on this planet it seems there a mushroom that has an answer. Stinky old cigarette butts? A fungus will eat those, Bees suffering from Colony collapse? There are mushroom medicines that help boost Bee immunity and help with health in the hive. Land poisoned by chemical weapons? No problemo muchachos, Fungi can be trained to consume even the most dastardly VX nerve agent and petrochemicals and even nuclear contamination.
Fungi have survived the last 5 mass extinction events, they grow in the doomed reactor site in Chernobyl. Clearly, if we wish to survive on this planet, we’ve got a lot we can learn from mushrooms.
Shinrin-Yoku is the Japanese phrase meaning Forest Bathing. The pleasure gained from immersing yourself into nature in the woodlands and forests, re-connecting you with the earth and it’s eco-systems. There is no doubt of the powerful mental and physical health benefits it offers.
So this weekend, Remembrance Weekend, as we give gratitude and thanks for those who gave up their lives so we could live ours freely and safely, why not take a walk in your local woods, embrace the fresh air and the reflective moments in the solitude of our wonderful woodlands.
And don’t forget to do a bit of mushroom spotting while your there!.
Thanks for reading, Have beautiful weekend.
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