Aly may be away at college, but she continues to live as she did on the homestead to a large extent—much more so in her sophomore year, now that she and a few friends have an off-campus apartment.
Aly’s college held their annual harvest fair on a recent weekend. She attended, as she did last year, eager to carve a Jack-o-lantern, press some cider, maybe dance to the live band. She carved a face with small, simple features, so as not to carve out too much of the squash’s flesh, as she intended to take it home and cook it. She also sifted through the pumpkin “guts” for the seeds to roast.
While scrounging seeds, she ran into a friend who was doing the same. They fell into conversation, and she discovered that her friend wanted to forage for wild mushrooms, but didn’t know what to look for. Luckily for him, he had run into Aly. When they left the harvest fair, they wandered through the adjacent woods, looking for mushrooms. They soon found chanterelles, a variety Aly knows well, and began to gather them. For a receptical, they used Aly’s carved pumpkin.
That evening, I got a call from Aly, asking for tips on drying mushrooms. We conferred, and improvised a bit to take advantage of her situation: I suggested she dry them on top of the refrigerator, as it throws off heat as a byproduct of refrigeration, and should dry her mushrooms in short order. With the drying mushrooms, chunked and frozen pumpkin, and roasting pumpkin seeds, she emailed, “I feel very autumnal and hobbitish (in the sense that I have a comfortably full pantry).”
In addition, she’s been gathering fruit from trees and shrubs in a nearby park. She has control of her own food budget now, and is actively foraging edibles as much as possible. We’re gratified to see that she’s pursuing the lifestyle in which she was raised after reaching a point where she could choose her own path.
The current cold snap here has pretty much ended our mushrooming season for the year. Aly says that in her area, it’s likely she’ll be able to gather wild mushrooms throughout the winter.