Today was a good day to go into the woods. It has been a long season with many challenges, which in truth seems to be the theme for the whole of 2016. I continue to try to make time for reflection, grounding, fresh air, and joy. Admittedly, it isn’t happening as often as I would hope.
Today, I put aside my lists and got out. My reward was a wild bounty for dinner.
Under a large, ancient oak, I discovered a huge hen of the woods (maitake) mushroom. I generally am too timid to forage for mushrooms, but this variety is hard to mistake for others, and lookalikes are benign.
It was a bit old and worn, but it was huge.
Further down the trail, I found wild garlic mustard still thriving. This makes sense, as it is seemingly impossible to kill. At any rate, between the mushrooms and greens, I had the makings for a great soup, and it just happened that I had a batch of chicken stock simmering on the stove while I was out walking.
My herbs are still thriving, as well. Fresh herbs, wild garlic mustard, red pepper, dried sumac from last year (I still have so much I chose not to pick any on today’s walk), onion, celery, chardonnay, cream, chicken stock, mushrooms, and some salt, pepper, and fire, et voila! A very November soup.
It was a bit of work cleaning and paring down the maitake, partially because of its size, and partially because it had been so well loved by other critters before I found it. But it was worth the effort. The soup was fantastic, and I also have a bag of frozen mushrooms for future meals.
I am grateful for the reminder of all the unexpected joys life can bring.