We went mushroom hunting on Saturday, returning to a spot we had not visited since last fall. All predictions were for a wet day, and the light drizzle turned into a soaking rain right on cue. It was colder than we had expected, in the upper 40s, and dark in the forest. Our eyes, accustomed to summer’s brightness, have not yet adjusted to the opacity of a dark fall day.
We had stayed away from such places this past spring and summer, in large part because they were the favorite haunts of a little buddy to whom we said goodbye this past June.
This place, like so many we explored with her, is not pristine. It follows what appears to be a decommissioned logging road, snaking around the side of a mountain and climbing gradually toward an expansive view of the Nooksack River valley. It is signed as if for an actual trail, but that seems more wishful thinking than reality. Although the grade is relatively gentle, the forest is reclaiming the path. Tread exists, but a machete is helpful.
And yet it abounds with life: lush devil’s club, stands of hemlock, cedar, Douglas fir, currants, five-leaved bramble, wild ginger, thimble and salmon berries. Animal scat is abundant and varied.
Our little buddy was complicated, and the complex beauty in these sorts of broken places suited her. She did not make our lives easier, but she made our lives infinitely richer.
This past Saturday, we were cold, we were wet, we were tired from climbing over downed trees. Our foraging baskets, though not empty, weren’t exactly overflowing. And yet there was a sense of rightness in the physical effort, in the smell of damp soil and the feel of rain softened by a hemlock canopy.
It was good to be back.