December 2020 Meeting
Monday, December 21st at 7:30 p.m.
Online meeting using Zoom
Speaker: Bob Cummings, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Department of Biological Sciences, Santa Barbara City College
Program: "The Accidental Forager"
I always know when the sulfur shelf and green-spored parasols start to show up early in the season around Santa Barbara, and when the first chanterelles appear, too, because I’ve become somewhat of an accidental forager over the years. I get a constant stream of texts and mushroom photos from interested friends, acquaintances and curious strangers. I know many other LAMS members have similar experiences. At some point we realize we could pretty much stop foraging, and not miss much of what is happening (fungi-wise) around town. Foraging is hard work; getting out in the woods, especially on those rainy days that bring out the mushrooms. It takes time and energy, when we could be sitting by the fire with a cup of tea and a good book, waiting for mushroom photos to appear on our phones.
When a keen-eyed citizen scientist spots a mushroom, especially a bizarre one like the lattice stinkhorn (Clathrus ruber) they take a photo of it, text the local colleges, botanic gardens or natural history groups, who will inevitably forward the message to me. Voila, my accidental check list gets a tick. Accidental foraging also includes frantic texts and mushroom photos I get from hospitals and veterinary emergency rooms. Tick, and tick. File this next anecdote under “read between the lines”… A friend sends a fungus photo and a text saying, “I saw this and immediately thought of you!” How sweet. Until you see the photo of a “dog turd” Pisolithus. Still, it’s a tick for the check list. Finally, there is “extreme” accidental foraging, involving texts and photos from serious mycological types showing off big hauls of chanterelles or morels from one of their “secret spots”. Of course I’m happy for them (and, tick for the check list), but there’s no denying the jealousy either, especially thinking of those mushrooms with shallots and cream over pasta, with a nice glass of Pinot Noir. The feeling is further exacerbated by guilt for not being out there myself. The guilt eventually wins out, and I’m off for some real foraging, imagining a truly epic flush of chanterelles and a photo that will surely serve as sweet retribution to (…you know who you are!). Never mind the fact that most of the time I get skunked, except for a good case of poison oak (and the occasional Pisolithus) thus adding injury to insult. Maybe I can photoshop that Pisolithus to look like a basket full of morels...