It will take years for Sonoma County to get past, life before and after the Sonoma Complex Fire. There are heartwarming stories, and those of narrow escape and of heroism. One such reflection is the community we live in and the cause dispirit therein. Jennifer Taylor of Petaluma told me of the mass immigration of evacuees during the first few days after the fires began. Petalumans were tripping over survivors, “They were everywhere, and people here responded by setting up shelters, getting others to donate time and resources to keep them safe, fed and sheltered. It would have been easy to get angry at so many people invading, instead Petaluma took them in with open arms. There was no regard for race or other differences. I’m really proud of that.”
So is the rest of our county, Jennifer. It is times like this that the stuff we are really made of comes out.
There is a significant rain storm forecast for the weekend. It may be enough to spur the growth of the first mushrooms of the season. Plan to go out, in some cases go ‘in’ to braces of pine and oak, good quality edibles can be had right here for the next several months. Keep in mind the strong advice of mushroom clubs, ‘When in doubt throw it out’. If you are new to the sport join one of the mushroom clubs and go with them into the field. There are many reasons to pursue mushrooms besides the table. They can be amazingly beautiful, exotic and otherworldly. Finding them is a delight and a great way to get outdoors during stormy weather. Many pursue fungi for photography, to see some of photos, go to: mykoweb.com and surf through the species lists. You will also find on the website comprehensive details on specific fungi including edibility. Never rely solely on a photograph to determine edibility, unless you hate your liver. Mushrooms can also be used to dye fabric.
Dorothy Beebee of Forestville has written extensively about the sport of mushrooms as dye. She has an entire rainbow of colors in yarn on display. Some people give mushrooms a mystical purpose with heady references to the healing powers of mushrooms and fungi. Others have come to the sport with the attitude, ‘I just want to get high!’ there is usually a table for them to visit as well.
Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and a lifelong sportsman. He is the former president of the Sonoma County Mycological Association. Look for his column in The Community Voice each week.