Sunday, August 19, 2007

Magical Mushrooms

Allan took us to his hytte (cabin) today with his son Max. We arrived at the trailhead about 13:00 and unloaded the kids’ bikes. Off they went! We attached a strap to Anna’s seat so that I could be her brakes while going downhill, and her engine when going uphill, but generally she was a good peddler and a good braker.

The hike was pretty long for the kids, Maggie and Peter wiped out several times and each ended the day with multiple bloody wounds. The last half of the trip back, we pushed the bikes, but by the time we got back to our leilighet (apartment) they were eager to get back on their bikes.

The trail was 2 miles long, ending at a farmhouse which was now a business catering to hikers, selling hot chocolate and hot dogs. Just before the farmhouse, immediately off the trail, is the Krill’s hytte. They feel very lucky to have bought the cabin in the woods so close to Trondheim. Many Norwegians have winter cabins to use as their bases for cross-country skiing, but most feel their cabins should be far far from town. Maggie, Peter, and Max busied themselves outside making swords: sawing off branches from fallen trees, whittling points on the sticks, and nailing crossguards to the blades.

Allan, Pam, Anna, and I went mushroom hunting, and it was sheer magic! We left the trails to walk among the trees, the ground was covered with a pad of thick moss that was like walking on a giant sponge. The filtered light seemed glow off the soft greens, like a scene from a fantasy tale -- I expected to see fairies and elves hiding beneath the leaves.

Padding beneath the trees we found pockets of mushrooms in great varieties -- browns and yellows and reds and grays, all sizes, many shapes. Allan knew which were good to eat, which were poisonous, which ones were pretenders. He showed us how to check for bugs, how to identify good mushrooms and bad, as we filled bags with the soft jewels from the forest floor. We spotted a cluster of bright red mushrooms with white spots, looking exactly like the mushrooms which house tiny blue Smurfs.

Blueberries were in abundance as well, smaller than we are used to in the States but very sweet. Allan led us to a secret berry patch where we found cloud berries, a very rare and expensive berry costing 100 Kr/kg at the store. An acquired taste, he tells us. I ate 4 or 5, trying to get used to them, but they tasted a bit like sweet mushy pickles, and I decided 4 or 5 really was quite enough for me.

On our way back, Allan stumbled upon the prize: a hexering (witch’s ring, or fairy circle) of bright orange chanterelle mushrooms. Earlier during the hunt we found many lookalike mushrooms, very close in appearance to the chaterelle but Allan was not fooled by the imposters. Here was the real deal! This find was exciting, and we filled an entire bag with these treasures.

This evening, we steamed a panful of chanterelle mushrooms for dinner. High in fiber, B vitamins, and selenium.

I am deeply exhausted tonight.


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