Chantrelle Hunting and Net Cleaning

One Jack O Latern is eating the other, smaller one. They're both smiling. "Do we light another candle in the little one?" One hopes that question is anachronistic.

The icy water gives me a hollow ringing in my head, but my numb hands burn up. It shocked me at first, this feeling that my hands couldn't stand going back in the water. Not because it was surprising that cold water is cold, but because all I could say about it was that it's really cold, pause. He suggested gloves. It's a common complaint that men hear complaints as repair requests, one I am too happy to deploy, but it was a good idea. I think I haven't looked for gloves because that would be giving up the part of the job I look forward to.

Can one be blunted? At the least, one needs bluntness sometimes. "Do you enjoy these things?" No, but I need them. Is enjoyment fair to ask?

The flavor of chantrelles is hard to define, but umistakeable, maybe even a little grotesque. Raw, they're reputedly "peppery and upsetting." They're supposed to smell like apricots, which sounds like synesthesia.

The hills look golden these days, but those same oak leaves up close are a dull ochre. Looking and being might be the other way around. The leaves are all precious anyway, rotten spots and all, until they wash down into the net. Left alone, the net becomes a dam, the water overflows. Why clean the net?

Why find new ways to faint? I have forgotten to say that cleaning the net is work. The question of whether it's worth it--the degree to which work releases from work--is replaced by the fact that I have to do it. I said I look forward to it, but I try to avoid it. I'm sick of the monotony of the routine that surrounds it, but I'm sick of my routine being interrupted by scraping every leaf-clogged surface of the net.

Hunting for mushrooms is actually two things, searching and finding. It's almost annoying to have to stop looking to get down on my knees and collect the trove. Greed turns into the work of brushing off dirt and needles, plucking each mushroom and deciding if it's too damp, too dry, too moldy, too difficult to clean. Soon they're all uprooted, and I'm once again interrupted to go back to looking intently at the forest floor. It's no wonder that after only an hour of this, it's all ennui. Mushrooms as good as those jostling around in my backpack are no longer perfect enough to bother with. Even a largish patch just looks like effort.

That's the trouble with eating them, too: Given the hour-long drive on a sick-inducing road, it only makes sense to gather them in large quantitites. And what does one do with that many chantrelles? It's not a flavor I want in every meal, but there they are. Supposedly they freeze well, but freezers require trust, and I suspect them of mangling the texture of everything. The only option, really, is sharing them as widely as possible. It's not altruism it's ventriloquism. I imagine their taste is more appreciated by those who aren't stuck with them.

29 October 2013