October rain came to the Oregon Coast. Release the (mushroom) hounds.
There they are, foraging in the stunted, shore pine forests, at the sneaky fringes of the dunes, heads to the ground, trying to look like chanterelle people when quite obviously they are not. They are the psychedelic folk.
I know almost next to nothing of mushrooms, but I know of the mushroom hounds on the Oregon Coast who favor the trip through clouds over the saute in butter. I can also spot their vehicles, even though I couldn’t delineate them here. I just know one when I see one parked where vehicles never park except except for two weeks after rains arrive in October.
These Halloween psychedelic mushrooms harvested on the Oregon Coast and generally consumed on Halloween are a curious and subtle Oregon cultural tradition that most likely began a little over a half century ago. There might be a little book in that tradition.
The window for foraging doesn’t last long. The hounds travel from all over. It isn’t an exclusive local pack. Over the years, I’ve met a few in the woods as I make my way to the beach, some from as far away as Eastern Oregon. A few are foraging for the first time and seemingly have no idea what they are doing. They even ask me questions! Others are veterans and have their favorite spots and warn of sting operations conducted by State Police.
I have only one great Oregon mushroom story and I’ve told it a few times but never wrote it up before. Until now.
In my former life as a a high school teacher, I had a student who was a mushroom expert. He sampled the psychedelic ones, naturally, but also gathered and sold edible mushrooms to the local restaurants. He made a fair amount of money from his seasonal enterprise. One fall day, he brought to school a paper bag of chanterelles, his camping propane stove, a frying pan, butter and some herbs. He sauteed the mushrooms in the parking lot and then served me the finest lunch I ever ate at school. I’ll never forget it.