Summer has come and gone in a heartbeat. Ironically, much of it was spent waiting for the "proper" summer to start as it was rather cold and rainy most of the time. On the positive note, it seems that mushrooms are loving the less-that-perfect climate this year. And I love mushrooms :)
The stunningly beautiful blood red Amanita muscaria (a.k.a. fly agaric) I've captured in the picture above is of course inedible (classified as poisonous!), but it's a true jewel of the forest. So bright and pretty! These iconic mushrooms stand tall and proud and can be easily seen from a distance.
--- Picture: my white bicycle in the forest - ready to start filling that handlebar basket! ---
Last year I've re-learned how to ride a bike - what a joy! I keep wondering what on earth was keeping me from trying it sooner. I skipped twenty years.. This year I've also discovered that I can go mushroom hunting with a bike and I can even use a "shopping basket" on the handlebar to keep my mushrooms more or less safe and in one piece after the ride.
As you probably know, I work from home and spend most of the time sitting on my butt (either making jewelry, editing pics, or managing shop and packing orders), so cycling is a super useful exercise that's also fun.
--- Picture: ..our biggest "catch" this year. All porcini cleaned and ready to be chopped and dehydrated---
I love nature so the mushroom season is as good a reason as any to mount a bike and go explore :) For the past few weeks I've been combining post office rides with the quick trips to the nearby woods. Living in one of the greenest (and compact) European capitals does have some benefits - you are never too far away from some semi-wild park or a true forest, even on a bicycle. My favorite place is just 8km (5 miles) away from home.
--- Picture: ..while "the best" porcini mushrooms are rare around the busy city, I find plenty of the Suillus Variegatus specimens here. ---
Mushroom hunting is a very popular weekend activity in Lithuania (and even a job for some!). Counting porcini mushrooms found is comparable to a national sport - e.g. finding over 50 in one day gives you some serious bragging rights :) We even have a national wild mushroom picking competition / mushroom foraging festival - I found it mentioned in the Washington Post this year.
--- Picture: Decorative Trametes Versicolor aka Turkey Tail Fungi on a moss covered decomposing stump. ---
With mushroom picking being so popular around here, sometimes it's a real challenge to find anything worth taking in the nearby forest. So I've started carrying a mini tripod to take pics of the amazingly beautiful inedible stuff. Btw, did you know that the Turkey Tail Fungi is a source for the anti cancer drugs? I didn't.
--- Picture: young Honey fungus on a rotten stump. ---
--- Picture: it's always a joy to find a young specimen from Leccinum family. ---
--- Picture: beautiful Amanita muscaria ---