Monday, 9 August 2010

Hunter and gatherer. More of a gatherer

In the 1850's, Austrian parliament passed a law granting the right of passage, so what's not fenced is accessible. And it's also permitted to pick mushrooms, berries, herbs and other stuff, and dry sticks.
Not that gathering dry sticks would be a prevailing industry but mushrooming is a national sport and at around this time, various yummy things are rather easy to find.
To start with, I'm regularly going to the meadow behind the hotel to pick St. John's wort and tansy for dyeing, I've brought a bagful of lichens, for dyeing too, and some Matricaria... and well, mushrooms. It's warm and humid and they grow like mad.
L. had told me some time ago that she'd love to try this national sport so I invited her over. I know six edible species, umpteen poisonous ones and since it's a national sport, first graders are taught the most important thing: pick only what you know for sure. (1) L. has very overblown ideas about my knowledge, I'm able to name half of the plants in the curb but that's all. And, there're thousands of species of mushrooms growing in this general area (some are in the form of goo under rotting wood, admittedly) so if I know 20 at most... well. L. had a happy.
Mushrooms shouldn't be carried in plastic bags, they might start metabolizing themselves into something not-really-healthy (2); normal people use baskets. Since I'm not a regular mushroomer, I use a paper bag from Bravissimo lined with newspapers. Style, I don't have any.

(1) and also that although paris (Paris quadrifolia) berries look like blueberries, the whole plant is totally different and the berries are poisonous. There's lots of them growing in the nearby forest, gotta pick one for my herbary. Also, paris and blueberries are totally not similar; I wonder how many people would really think they're picking a blueberry... and whether it's not criminal stupidity.
(2) at which point I always wish I knew more chemistry
(3) old newspapers are one of the most important materials for an aspiring nature lover and gatherer of stuff. Used to press flowers, to dry stuff on... at the worst, you can even read them.

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