I’ve been home visiting my family for almost two weeks now. It’s been relaxing and nice to spend time with them. There’s not so much to do around here since they live in a small town but I don’t mind the peace and quiet. There are however some things that I look forward to doing when I’m here every year when it’s possible, and one of them is to take a trip to the forest, walk around and pick mushrooms.
Personally I don’t like to eat mushrooms but I do love to go look for them and pick them in the forest. It’s something we’ve done since we were kids. We used to go the whole family together with my grandfather and head out into some deep forest and hike around. When we got tired we went back to the car and had a picnic there. I still very much enjoy the forest, though nowadays it’s just my parents and I that go out.
I think it’s the peacefulness that I want to get back to again and again. The only sound you hear are the birds singing or the tree-branches under your foot cracking and the forest have a special kind of smell too. It’s also good exercise, walking a lot in the terrain, usually a lot up and down the hills, taking big steps. The concentration gets some exercise too since you need to both keep track on your feet and watch your step, remember the way your going and direction so you can find the way back and/or find the people you’re there with, and finally you also need to concentrate on the ground and look for the mushrooms.
I’m not sure how the laws are in other countries but here in Sweden anyone can go out and pick mushrooms in any forest they want. Not only that, the law that gives this right, Allemansrätten in Swedish, roughly translated into Right of Public Access, states rights as well as obligations for people who want to spend time out in nature on land that other people own. In short it’s often summed up as “don’t disturb, don’t destroy”. You can hike, camp, pick berries, flowers etc, but no matter what you choose to do you’re not allowed to do anything that damages the nature or disturb people or wildlife. If you want to know more about this you can find information on Naturvårdsverkets webbpage (in English).
So with this kind of laws the people in Sweden are used to spending time outdoors doing sports and recreational activities, including picking mushrooms and berries. I’m not sure how popular it it among the younger generations but I hope it still lives on since it’s such a wonderful opportunity we have to both find delicious things to eat and at the same time get some exercise and get away from all the stress that normal life can build up.
Back to this years trip now. We decided to go to the forest some days ago, since the season for mushrooms have started now. We have a place we usually go to that’s about an hours drive away, and that’s where we headed first. Unfortunately the land owner has destroyed the forest a lot by cutting down trees and just leaving a lot of branches and parts of trees laying around. No more mushrooms growing there for a while, but we did find a few close to the road on the way back to the car. We had to go search for new places and managed to find a few good places to come back to next year as well.
One good things with this years bad summer weather – a lot more rain than usual – is that the conditions for mushrooms are really good. We found a lot more mushrooms than we usually do and in quite short time. We picked more than 2 kg over about 5 hours in total. It might not sound like much but when you see it in the baskets it really is. It’s a lot more fun when finding so much in such a short time. We even found a new place to stop at while driving around looking for new places. I spotted some yellow dots in the forest while driving by and we turned around to check if it really were mushrooms or just yellow leaves, it can be difficult to see the difference just driving by in high speed. Luckily, and much to our surprise, it was chanterelles! Lots of it and really big ones too. I really look forward to going back next year. Let’s hope for a good mushroom-summer next year too so we can pick a lot in the new places we found!