The town I live in has an annual fungus foray where people meet up in the morning then split up off into the forest to forage for mushrooms, and learn how to. It's hosted by our local watershed institute.
(Mushroom foraging is a learning curve - you really want to know what you're doing before you eat them because identification between poisonous and edible ones, or plain old gross tasting ones, can be a matter of life and death.)
I've wanted to go for yearrrrrrrrs and I keep ending up being gone during it. I was finally able to make it this year. I wanted to sleep in that morning so bad, but I heard a voice in my head say "your community is calling you to the forest." It was clear that it meant my mushroom community, not humans!
I had no idea how many mushrooms were in the forest after rain season begins, and how many different kinds of them!! I don't normally walk off trail, but being with a group of people meant I wasn't afraid of getting lost. The soil was soft under many layers of leaves, and the peacefulness of being in the forest kingdom was grand. We had one person in our group who knew what he was doing, so I learned a bit about the ways people identify different types of mushrooms, and about kinds of mushrooms I'd never heard of. There was an Air Force guy in our group who had a good handle on not getting lost, which was also helpful.
After a while of trying to find mushrooms, I felt as though I could hear the mycelial webs underground. After walking around in the forest all day, kneeling to look at and sometime pluck mushrooms from the earth, I felt like I got claimed by the mushroom kingdom even more than I already was.
Back at the lodge, people had prepared soups with different kinds of mushrooms, as well as whip cream made with candy cap mushrooms which are sweet. That was strange! A sweet mushroomy-tasting treat. Earthy :). A final highlight was that the car I carpooled in had two other ladies who absolutely love moss, and they want to start a study group together where we meet up and learn about moss and then go on a hike. One of the women was there with her boyfriend or husband, they were probably in their 60's, and he described how their first date was a hike; she was licking the moss on the trees and he said, "this is the girl for me!" She explained that she was drinking water from the moss, because it was the end of the drought and she was so happy to see moisture. Daw........ fellow moss lover friends.
If there are guided foraging hikes in your area I highly recommend going on them. The layers of experience and connection will continue unfolding for you in rich ways.
I'm excited to learn more so that I can take friends out for similar hikes to connect with nature and the wonderful world of mushrooms.
This fellow had a microscope and was showing people things:
The center we all met up at was such a hobbit village! There are so many wacky forest communities out here - it's kind of like a big decentralized ecovillage.
This image blew my mind.... showing how mushrooms move vertically through the forest. At some point a person in my group showed us a split in half log that had polypore mushrooms along it. I'd never thought about what was happening inside of those logs - it was completely colonized by mycelium - little fuzzy networks of them running through the log.