Hugh Erle Smith
Photographer

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Favorite Forays

Indiana, August 9 - 11, 2006
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Don't you think it's fascinating that every time a mushroom enthusiast goes on a trip, for whatever reason, they always seem to find mushrooms?

Unless of course you're in a desert, where all you find is Earthstars, stalked puffballs, other assorted puffballs, Podaxis pistillaris,
Longula texensis, Peziza ammophila. You know...nothing.

 I just returned from a trip to Indiana. I went to visit relatives and I had never been there before. I thought Indiana was one of those places where you could see forever, but only if you got up on a ladder to see over the corn. I thought all we would be doing would be watching corn (and Corn Smut) grow. Didnít find any Corn Smut.

This is the image I had of the Midwest.

Boy, was I wrong, they have Soy Beans!

Probably more soybeans than corn.

And Bugs! And mushrooms!

There were so many caterpillars, moths and pupae, flutterbys and chrysalis', beetles and grubs, fireflies and garden spiders.
I thought I was in heaven!

In fact, I was in Indiana.

It had rained 5 inches in 30 minutes a couple of days before we arrived.

I had seen two houses with two foot cement morels in their driveway.

So I asked my relatives if there were any mushrooms around.

"Nope", they said, "mushrooms only come up in May."

So I walked across the street and picked some very large puffballs.

There were puffballs everywhere.

The next day the puffballs I had left were pushing on each other and they were growing fast. Later I cooked some of them up and most everybody tried them. Now, I'm not a very good cook and I don't like mushrooms (do I?) but puffballs taste like puffy potato chips when done correctly (secret ingredients:

Butter and Salt)

Later when we were in town, I quite suddenly and involuntarily yelled "Stinkhorn!" I didn't know I had yelled but I startled a couple people.

There it was, one perfect Dog Stinkhorn standing alone in a flower bed. Awesome! Later on, I found a whole bed of stinkhorn eggs in chips the city had put around trees. I brought several home to Yuba City and have hatched one so far. I think more may hatch, but right now I'm in Fort Bragg (one perfect No.1 Boletus edulis and one excellent Sparrasis crispa [in September?!]).
I'll probably miss the next Stinkhorn hatching.

(Editor's note: I'm now in Yuba City. I missed two hatching).

Have you ever smelled stinkhorns? Well, I have, I love them.

(Man, that smells funky! Can I smell that again?)

This stinkhorn doesn't smell like the others I've sniffed.

This one has kind of a minty, very pleasant odor.

California flies don't seem to be attracted to them.

Probably why we don't have any here. Doesn't smell bad enough.

Maybe I'll make some scratch and sniffs for you.

Anyway, the next day, much to my disbelief AND delight, the ONLY picture on the front page of the Rochester, Indiana newspaper, is a STINKHORN! I'm tellin' ya, this place knows what's important!

So, here in Indiana they have lots of wood (that's woods for the rest of us). Mostly Ash, Elm, Hickory and Maple.

I said to my sister-in-law, "There's no trail in the wood (in California language that's... well... you know).

She said nobody goes in there. So I went in there. I followed a deer trail and found some cool things on dead wood.

But no mushrooms in Indiana.

Some of my family's friends had access to some private wood(s), so we quickly arranged a foray and away we went.

In Indiana, everything is "not far" from wherever you are.

If you ask how far a place is, the response you get from some people is "that's about a two beer drive."

After about a four beer drive, we arrived at the Friends' Wood.

There were Amanitas, Giant Black Leg Polypores 1 foot across, a very different Suillus, Dog Doo fungus, except on LBM(s),
and oh, yes, Mosquitah. Lots of Mosquitah.

White Jellies, salmon pink mushroom(s) on log(s).

Awesome stuff everywhere! We had three cars and so many sets of new mushroom eyes, I couldn't keep up with the discoveries.
Running back and forth across the wood, trying to get pictures of everything...

And oh yes, always look around the car (that's plural)...a giant Hen of the Wood(s).

In every aspect, it was a fantastic trip.

I really felt I was in the heartland of America.

I just hope that when I die, I go to...well...Indiana.

Indiana, Continued:

You remember in my Indiana letter when I said, "I asked my relatives if there were any mushrooms around.

"Nope", they said, "Mushrooms only come up in May."

Well, now all of my in-laws are looking at the ground and the trees and finding mushrooms and sending me pictures!

I should go more places, huh?

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