A Glorious Day

Some days are better than others. When you wake up to a wet morning after it has rained for three days, the ground is thoroughly soaked, the leaves are dripping and the air is full of humidity you might not think of a day that could be full of potential. However if the temperature is above 50, and it is at the end of July, it could be a glorious day.

 My husband and I got up early, got our rain gear on and struck out for a small crop of young fir trees on a hill not far from our home. Christopher Robin had his 100 acre woods, ours may be 20 acres at best. There is a small lane that leads past the woods into a large state forest. Most people continue to the large forest, where there are 100’s of acres of tall old forest to walk through. We stopped at our small woods. Off the road a bit, behind a field of tall corn. From the road it isn’t very impressive. Non the less, what isn’t impressive at first glance may surprise you once you take a closer look. Parking the car at the edge of the road, making our way along the border of the corn field, jumping across a bubbling brook; filled with water after the rains, climbing up a steep embankment, crossing a grassy meadow. I can understand why most people go on to the forest where there is ample parking and easy access. Finally we arrive at the edge of the woods. The trees stand in rows looking like giant Christmas trees. Fir trees, as they become older, drop their lower branches. These trees, being young, still have most of their branches making it necessary to bend over at the waist to walk under them. Wearing a large brim straw hat to protect my face, I plunge in, my husband follows suit a few meters away. The ground is covered with a soft mat of pine needles cushioning our steps. We look at the ground from side to side until we see what we are looking for, a little brown cap pushing its way through the needles. Then we see another and another. The porccini mushrooms (Boletus edulis) have finally appeared where three days ago there were none. It is a wonderful feeling to know that you are the first to arrive in a spot to find the forest floor dotted with mushrooms. My husband and I succeed at filling our baskets.

There are also russela and some other edibles here and there. I try to resist taking them. Today there are better pickings. An hour later we are on our way home. The appearance of porccini is bitter-sweet. From now until November the porccini, along with other Boletus, will grow abundantly throughout the Czech Republic. Unfortunately, word will spread fast and thousands of Czechs will come to the forest to collect them. The competition will be fearsome. No more leisurely walks in the woods, casually collecting mushrooms. No, from now on, it will depend on how early you get there and how fast you are. I have arrived at 5:30 in the morning to be greeted by someone leaving the forest, basket full or mushrooms, with flashlight in hand. So glorious is the first day, before the insanity begins, quietly slipping out of the woods with our baskets full and big smiles on our faces.

Porccini - Boletus edulis