I wonder where I’d be sometimes if it wasn’t for God dropping blessings right in front of my face. Of course, I think about it—the very air I breathe and the ground I walk on count …
I wonder where I’d be sometimes if it wasn’t for God dropping blessings right in front of my face. Of course, I think about it—the very air I breathe and the ground I walk on count too—so it’s a bit of a redundant question.
In this case, as with so many other times, it was something I wasn’t expecting, but it felt like a special surprise in the midst of an otherwise very busy few months.
As I was packing my kids into their car seats and filling the pickup with all the things I needed for the day, I looked over for no reason at all to the edge of our yard. Sprouting from the dead stump of a long-removed maple was a floral bouquet of yellow-orange mushrooms.
Typically I’m not one to eat wild mushrooms on the fly, but I always like to stop and look at them. Let’s face it: mushrooms are really cool if you ever look at the way they grow and the tiny details they have to identify them.
Yes, I must be getting old or something because I just said mushrooms are cool. But, I’m fairly sure I heard a pretty popular kid on the playground call mushrooms cool before, so maybe I’m not that old.
In any case, as we were pulling out to leave, I stopped closer to them and got a better look. I was about 90 percent sure these were chicken of the woods, a popular and common mushroom in Northeast PA that is in fact edible.
To confirm, I later called the expert to verify. Amanda, our graphic designer extraordinaire and my personal good friend, also happened to be well versed in the gathering and consumption of chicken of the woods.
After a failed video call, we resorted to pictures and without a moment’s hesitation, she dubbed them safe to consume.
In the interest of being able to gather more later in the fall, she advised that we not pick the entire mushroom, but rather leave a quarter-inch or so at the base of each one in order to facilitate more growth.
With a cardboard lid and a pocketknife for our gathering tools, I took the boys after work on the arduous trek across our lawn to where they were growing.
After taking a few more pictures for posterity, I set to work and began cutting the first mushrooms off of the tree.
Having watched me cut a few, Rorick quickly volunteered his professional services to aid in the endeavor. Walker, however, was nearby struggling to climb the rock wall that stood an intimidating foot-or-so high beside the tree.
Our cat Elliot was helpful as well, and made sure that everyone acknowledged his presence by rubbing up against legs and hands, unintentionally making my two urchins fight for balance as they were unexpectedly pushed.
Rorick, with some careful oversight, did in fact manage to harvest a few of the lower mushrooms. He followed instructions with the pocketknife, tracing the lines I drew for him, cutting off the sections.
After we filled the cardboard lid, we took a short walk around the yard to see if there were any other hidden surprises to be had. Finding nothing from the woods, we stopped at our small yard garden and harvested some fresh Chinese cabbage and kohlrabi to bring inside.
The whole adventure lasted no more than an hour, but it was a nice change of pace from the constant running of late. With Rorick heading to pre-K at the end of the month and the county fair going on, time has not been our friend, but in the span of the afternoon, none of that seemed to invade our minds for a little while.
The way out here we don’t always have a whole day or weekend to go food hunting, but sometimes it’s better to spend five minutes going after easy pickings than making a project out of hoping for something more. So the next time God lands low-hanging fruit in front of you, don’t overthink it.
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