Thursday, 29 October 2009

If you go down to the woods today....

I’ve been walking around all evening with a leaf stuck in my hair.

Did anyone in the family tell me? Of course not.

They MUST have seen it, after all there isn’t much hair to hide it and a leaf is not part of my usual appendages. I even had eye-to-eye conversations with two of them and not a word.

It is autumn so I suppose a leaf here or there doesn’t make a great deal of difference but I thought it better to remove it once I spotted it on my reflection.

The leaf had adhered itself to my head earlier, during my trip in the forest to look for mushrooms, something I seem to be doing a lot lately.

Searching the forest for fungi requires a lot of skill. You have to learn to read the signs of other gatherers who passed before you so you can avoid their trail which will have not-much-room on them. (You have to read that quickly to get the joke).

This is probably why, after scrambling across the drainage ditch and through the bushes under the forest’s canopy, I suddenly found myself completely trapped in an impenetrable barrier of overgrown and vicious brambles that I had somehow penetrated - God knows how -and now needed help to extract myself from.

God wasn’t around now that I needed him/her, I should have brought a machete but hadn’t and nobody knew where I was other than “I’m off to the forest – back soon.”

I think the leaf landed on my head just after I lost balance and fell backward into the tangled web of prickles.

The French are probably better at it than me and I certainly didn’t see any of THEM stuck in the middle of the brambles.

The French are, with their mushrooms, like the English fishermen are with their stories of the fish that got away.

When I decided to try and take it all a little more seriously I went to the local newsagents to buy a handy guide to what wouldn’t poison me.

There were two men in the shop – the owner and a customer leafing through the magazines.

I asked for, and was pointed to the voluminous display of Mushroom guides and just the word ‘champignons’ set the two of them into story after story of the Cèpes they had found, cooked and swallowed.

As I left the owner topped the customer with his story about a monster of monsters that he had found deep in a secret part of the forest far from the brambles. Of course when he found it was decaying and riddled with slugs.

“But if I had found it a week earlier it would have weighed 2 kilos’ he bellowed.

I wasn’t looking for Cèpes today – I never find them when I try and if you do, you find them singly.

I was looking for Trompette de la Mort - Interesting name that, death’s trumpet, (English name is Horn of Plenty) but they are delicious AND if you find any you will find a whole spread of them.

I didn’t find ANY mushrooms in the brambles, other than the one in the photo, which also explains why there were no French and by the time I finally tumbled back, torn and bleeding and with a leaf stuck in my hair, onto the forest road it was dusk and time to cycle back through the pungent sells of autumn eve.

I’ve no idea what it is so I left it there; anyway it would hardly make a satisfying supper.

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