I was telling my neighbor Milton my story about finding these wild mushrooms in the garden last year –I’ll tell the whole thing soon, I promise– when he asked the question that everyone asks: “Were they edible?”
As my brother Jerome had pointed out to me some time ago, “all mushrooms are edible. The real question is ‘were they deadly poisonous’?”
And that of course was what Milton meant: were they poisonous? He then told the story of visiting his brother in rural Pennsylvania for the weekend, some time ago. They would be having a couple of friends who were near neighbors over for drinks and dinner on Saturday –the friends had planned to spend the earlier part of the day pursuing a new interest: hunting the wild mushroom of Pennsylvania.
One sensed what was coming in Milton’s story, but it was still quite extraordinary in the telling.
The friends of course did not show up for the invitation. And still did not show up. And did not telephone. And then did not show for dinner.
Concerned, Milton’s brother called; got no answer.
One thing led to another. Eventually the two brothers tracked down the rookie mycologists to where they had gone on their hunt.
There they were, lying on the ground near their car that they had parked on the outskirts of a wood.
Both of them were in a stupor and barely conscious. Unable to speak. Unable to stand up unassisted.
As it turned out one of them was much more severely stricken –to the point of being life-threatening. Whether because he had eaten more of the deleterious fungi, or had a lower resistance, Milton was not able to say.
A fungal warning note to us all.
I include myself: I took considerable precautions with my research into my own garden mushrooms-manifestations, Volvariella Speciosa.
(I will tell that story soon.)