Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ha Ha Tonka Foray

Dennis Snapping a Russula- Jon Rapp
This last Saturday, like any other individuals of sound mind, we elected to "Foray" with the Missouri Mycological Society (MOMS for short) at Ha Ha Tonka.  A hundred degree heat index won't stop this intrepid bunch, especially as mushrooms tend to grow best in the shade.

So what is a foray?  The Free Dictionary.com says:
1. A sudden raid or military advance.
2. A venture or an initial attempt, especially outside one's usual area
3. v.tr. Archaic  To pillage in search of spoils.
These definitions are right on as (a) Barb and I were definitely outside of our usual area, and (b) mushrooms frequently grow on the spoils of nature, i.e. decaying wood.

The MOMS members were a good-natured bunch, friendly, generous to a fault, full of information and suffering fools gladly (that would be us).  Our mentors, Jay Justice and Chris Crabtree shared their knowledge without flaunting it and all the members guided us gently through the mysteries of mushroom I.D.
A few of the pearls of wisdom:
Bunch of Basket Cases
  • Russela mushroom stalks snap like chalk with a sound to match.
  • Sniff every mushroom-  don't taste.
  • Walk through the woods like a beagle, eyes to the ground.  They found four times as many as I did.
  • Carry a basket to carefully store your collection.  Yeah, it feels funny at first, but it works.
After 3 hours of scouring the woods, we met back in camp to spread out our treasures.  Next came the identification process, a restrained, intellectual, academic discussion of the fine points to pinpoint the exact species (i.e. friendly arguing).  Actually, while this was going on, most of us were sitting in a nearby stream cooling off.

Camping Stan, the man with the fan
We missed much of the camaraderie and food as we wimped out in a motel rather than roughing it.  Roughing it may be a little strong, as Stan had a tent larger than our Comfort Inn room.  Staying in a motel and eating pizza was our loss as MOMS come to eat with great dishes to share brought from home.  This may be the real reason for the foray. 

There is a lot to learn to even catch up with the newest members, but they never gave up on us.  I doubt that I will ever become expert at identifying and naming most of the mushrooms- I struggle with remembering Barb's name some days-  ("Just call me Sweety").   But if you enjoy a walk in the woods with like souls, MOMS may be for you.


Check out the MOMS designated photographer, Jon Rapp's, pictures at flickr.com and find more information on MOMS at http://momyco.org. 

A Springfield chapter has been formed.  Read about it at momsspringfield.wordpress.com.  There may be fungi in your future with fun guys and gals.

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