Family legend has it that I was no older than three when I first went mushroom picking with my mother. I don’t recall the particular instance, but I’m sure that, by the time I attended pre-school, it had become a regular activity for me.
We lived in the North Caucasus, in a river gorge surrounded by wooded mountains, and it was the early 1980s. Wild mushrooms were both abundant and a necessity, because in the twilight years of the planned economy, whatever extra food you could stockpile, you needed. We lived in a community of astrophysicists, and every second family had a land plot for a vegetable garden. Come summer, everyone went mushroom picking.
My mother’s favorite words about this activity were “Every mushroom picker has his own mushroom in the forest” (У каждого грибника в лесу свой гриб). She would utter this mantra whenever we met someone coming out of the forest with a full basket as we were going in, implying that there were plenty waiting for us amid the trees. And it always turned out to be true.
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Fungi are Friends
Life with Mushroom
Russian Life is a 29-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.
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