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Wild Mushroom hunt, a father son moment

Amanita Muscaria Pine woods

 Wild Mushroom Hunt- a Father Son Moment

I have been a single father, for, well feels like, Forever.
In reality only for this last incarnation the past 2 decades. There was one incarnation where I was a sculptor, then I did an incarnation as a craftsman, then, when I was in my early 40’s, I became a father.

Amanita Muscaria Pine woods
Amanita Muscaria Pine woods


Nathan will be 18 in August. Then come September he leaves home,away from me where he and I have lived together most of his life. Whaaat!?! Leaves home??!! Yup. Still getting my mind and heart around that.

At the age of 17 almost 18 my not so little Leo is leaving home in a couple of months, going to school in another city, studying horticulture of all things! I feel like a proud father. Horticulture? There’s another oddity. He never showed an interest in working with me when asked over the years. I guess something rubbed off!! Not complaining!

Amanita Muscaria
Amanita Muscaria

After 10 hours of tenacity, trying to repair his air-soft rifle, he went out to play in the woods with a friend. A little game of hide and seek and using each other for target practice. Fun, apparently.
When he arrived back home he discovered he did not have his phone or his wallet. I took him to find his wallet in the woods. We revisited the spot where he had crouched in the tall grasses ambushing his friend.  Proceeded to look for his wallet which we could not find, but, we did find a mushroom, then another mushroom then found we had spent almost 2 hours hunting mushrooms, talking about mushrooms and pretty much everything else we could talk about including some things I hadn’t gotten around to discussing with him. Like my thoughts about what I might do when he left the nest. That I really would no longer have a reason to be where I had been for all these years since the only reason I chose to be here was because of him. It was a lovely and very timely experience life had lined up for us.

Wild mushrooms have been one of my passions for many years, yet I’ve never taken Nathan out to hunt mushrooms, (except when he was a baby and strapped to my front in a baby carrier).  It just seemed to come together in a very natural way, and sparked his own dormant mushroom passion. Questions and answers then more questions, hypothesis and theories on these so unusual representatives of Nature.

We spoke of rulerships, planets and plants, moon cycles, the Moon, the subconscious and emotions, (dark of and bright of our emotions and the moon), and the moons pull and influence on water, emotions the subconscious. The unique growing habits of mushrooms. The moon and Saturn as rulers of mushrooms, ebb and flow of their mysterious growth habits. Saturn’s position of the great teacher, setting limits and boundaries, endings.  And whether these specimens would continue their unfurling if moved from where they were. Or if they were dependent on the supply of nutrients, (or energy), from the barely perceptible strands of mycelium. So we conducted an experiment,  bringing some home to see if they would continue their unfolding. (Nope!).

We spoke of the terminology of mushroom parts, using “Keys”  to identify mushrooms, I introduced Nathan to Amanita’s, Agaricus, Boletes and some shelf mushrooms.  In Nature there is nothing like a personal face to face introduction. We shared the excitement of the hunt and discovery. It really was a lot of fun!!

Amanita Muscaria-Nathan Gabriel, how do you do.
Amanita Muscaria-Nathan Gabriel, how do you do.

A beautiful yellow Amanita Muscaria found Nathan. At his age, I too had heard of all the mind altering possibilities that nature in her abundant variety offered us. The symbolism of yellow orange or red Amanita Muscaria and how they have followed us through the evolution of our society and cultures in myth and the written word. We spoke of mushrooms as food, medicine and spiritual partners.

It was a perfect bonding time that just seemed to come together on it’s own.
And it was also the perfect time to have some overdue heart-to-heart conversations in a setting that was probably the most conducive to communication possible. Though we lived together, we never seemed to find time to talk in this way.


We spoke of what it could be like when he leaves and goes to school in another city, for him, for me. I admit I have been wondering and thinking and going through a lot of different things around Him leaving home in September.
At first I thought I was exempt from any such feelings, but the past couple of months I noticed myself mulling over different future scenarios. What would that mean for me, what was happening in my life, I would be free to go anywhere, do anything, I had no reason to stay where I was, I had rooted and built my life around Nathan and he was doing as he should do at his age. Spreading his wings and leaving the nest.
It would be a time of sadness and parting, but at same time, it would also be a time of new beginnings for us both.
That special combination of joy and fear,excitement and anxiety,.
The world is shrinking so much, distance is becoming more an illusion.

Even living in the same house we did not see each other daily or communicate that much. In fact, we text each other and talk on the phone often, though we are both home. We could have been in different countries!
This indeed is what I have been thinking about. With the Apothecary business going online and generating sales through the website, I may no longer need to be rooted in one physical place. I could travel If I wanted, find rare resins and essential oils all over the world. Make my oils, salves and tinctures anywhere and keep the income coming in over the internet with locally harvested plants not available here. ( Even transfer funds to him through internet banking!) Sounds exiting, doesn’t it?

Though, to be honest, I know clearly, that underneath these exiting ideas and possibilities, there is some fear and sadness. There is an end to a way of life at hand, a parting of ways, and a big change that feels like the ground disappearing from under my feet. (God knows I can use all the ground I can get!!). No doubt staying focused on the positive keeps me from dwelling on the feelings of loss, and attuned to the hopeful aspects of change.

This simply is part of parenthood, I am not exempt, circles within circles, a beginning and an end. As predictable as the phases of the moon and the slow plodding circuit of Saturn, Life revolves, evolves and moves forward.  With or without our consent.

Part of being a parent just as anything else I did with Nathan since he was born. Only easier said than done. All in all, I feel grateful for the gift of that father son moment, courtesy of wild mushrooms, the Moon and Saturn.

But I will accept, that I will always feel, a little bit of sadness too.


Wild Mushroom Collection
Wild Mushroom Collection
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Sunday Labour

Last of the Calendula flowers taken down from the rafters, brittle dry and brilliantly orange.
“Ten thousand year old Tobacco,” rolled as tightly as juicy leaves would allow, now unfurls, light as a feather with paper rustling fragility of a fall wasps nest. Its delicate textures of leaf and stem, edged in greens and filled with mocha browns where slow drying has cured the leaf. The aroma of the cured Tobacco is rich, round and heavenly. How elegantly it lends itself to become the perfect snuff! A little dry flaky leaf rubbed between the fingers produces the finest sneezing powder, clearing the head, expelling mucus and waking a sluggish mind with a rush of oxygen.
Stored for a few days in a humidor it is ready to be rolled into cigarillos, cigars or cut for cigarettes,( which seems a crude and inelegant use when compared with the alternatives). I will probably flake some of the leaf to use in a burning/Smudge mix, and would love to make a perfume tincture from whatever is left over. My only concern with using the Tobacco leaf as a perfume ingredient is the possible toxicity of its Nicotine content absorbed through the skin. It is not something I can really measure with the equipment I have, or afford to have measured by a laboratory for such a small amount.
This Scorpio Lunation seems an appropriate time to pull down the rest of the herbs still drying, finish up any oils and tinctures still macerating, and tie up as many loose ends from this season. Freeing me up for the next stage in the cycle.
Today the Puffball Mushroom slices will come down from drying since it is monday. Probably shortly, seeing as dawn is almost upon me.
There are conflicting opinions as to which planets and signs “rule” Mushrooms in general. The Moon is my choice. With its cycles and mysteries, and after over twenty years of hunting, eating and using mushrooms for medicine, I cannot think of a planetary energy that they resonate with better than the moon.
Does working in harmony with these planetary energies really make a difference in the quality and effectiveness of herbal preparations? Or of food for that matter? This is a question each of us must ask ourselves. There is an abundance of information and knowledge to be gleaned online, but this is one of those subjective esoteric “mysteries” of life, where only from within can we know with any verity what is real. Where only our personal experience and intuition can give us the answers we seek. Finding our answers from within.
Perhaps it is at this point, we might find a balance between head and heart, Science and spirit, small self and higher SELF. Forge our own individual path through our perceptual limitations to a world much greater than what we have been lead to believe, add our expanded view of reality and higher vibrational rate to the planet, and perhaps find ourselves perceiving this world in a much different way. Closer to old and ancient friends and spirits, masters and guides, a little closer to a bigger world view, to our destinies and our reason for being with this planet.
Hokey, new age double talk? Or a new way of thinking of things?
Certainly food for a good thought.
Answers to important questions that no one outside ourselves can give us.


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Puffball Passion

Time to explore some new territory today. Take a break from my harvest of fragrant Wild Ginger and check out some local woods closer to Dundas.
Nothing particularly exiting in the first hour and a half. Confirming some varieties of Goldenrod that will only share their family secret through their unmistakable fragrance. Leaves, and flowers just not what we expect Goldenrod to present. White flowers?? Heart shaped leaves?? Always something new to learn. Thank goodness! Not till I crossed the road and started exploring the South side of the ravine was I given a leap of heart and rush of exitement. A puffball the size of a basketball or larger had been kicked and cleanly cleft it two. Must have been an irresistable visual association! Lucky for me it was not only clean cut and in two perfect pieces , but firm, snow white and in perfect condition for the table. They don’t last indefinately. Sometimes it is only a matter of a few days from their emergence from the ground, tight and firm, to becoming powdery or discolored and completely inedible.
Any mushroom hunter worth their butter and pepper knows that once you find one mushroom something quite mystical and inexplicable happens. You “tune in” to that particular species of “shroom”, almost become one with it, and more likely than not, with little or no effort more mushrooms are simply revealed to you. And so it was. Within 15 minutes I found one more basketbal sized slightly skimmed or grazed on top and two perfect 3 pound babies about 8″ across. What a bounty to carry home to the kitchen!!
Never forget that the larger your bounty from the woods, the longer you are going to spend in the kitchen honoring the gifts and making the most of them. Washing, scrubbing, pots, pans, plates, then washing, scrubbing, pots, pans plates, lots of prep work and lots of cleanup, but worth every minute when you see the enjoyment, surprise and awe at the table. You found this where?? This is a mushroom?? Etc. very gratifying to ones ego :-).
So how to make the most of such a catch?
Eat some, refrigerate leftovers, but all the rest must be frozen and that means partially cooking them, cooling them down in the fridge and trying to pack the tender meat as airtight as possible.
I have heard it is possible to dry them for future use, but can’t say I have yet.
So cubed, rolled in flour, fried and frozen.
Slabbed to 1/2″ rolled in flour, dipped in egg mix, then breaded and frozen.
I soaked them in water before dusting them in flour, hoping the extra moisture would repel frying oil from saturating them. Seemed to work.
I also added powderd Porcini mushroom and a Porcini tincture I had recently made, to impart a more ” mushroomy” flavor. Though Puffballs can offer an abundance of meat and substance to the table, they do lack in that distinguished mushroomy flavor. This trick seemed to work so whether they were cut to 1/2″ or 11/2″, they were crispy on the outside, tender, juicy and flavorful on the inside. Worth the half days work it took to prepare them.

Extra thick
Puffball Harvest (note boot toe for reference)
First run-Cubed and floured.

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