Column: Mushrooms in the meadow

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Since February 2012, I have written about places I have visited. For this column, No. 300, the distance traveled was about 100 yards.

In the spring of 2009, my wife Jen and I closed on a small cabin in the woods of Brown County and immediately left for Turkey. Upon our return, we began exploring the areas around our cabin, one of which is a grassy hilltop area surrounded by trees. I call this our “meadow,” a word I learned as a toddler from “Little Boy Blue, Come Blow Your Horn” and had no chance to use since. In the meadow, we found what looked like mushrooms, but they were bright yellow. We both thought that all mushrooms were either brown or white. As we walked around our meadow, we found more brightly colored mushrooms, red ones and blue ones and purple ones and orange ones and green ones and pink ones. We also found white mushrooms covered with black spots and black mushrooms covered with white spots. Some mushrooms were shaped on top like pancakes and others looked like tiny parasols. Both of us took dozens of pictures of our discoveries. Every year since, our colored mushrooms have reappeared in about mid-June and disappeared about a month later. If the summer is wet enough, as it has been this year, they reappear.

We have learned more about colored mushrooms. There are many varieties in addition to the ones in our meadow and they all have names. Some colored mushrooms are edible and some can kill and there are no any easy rules for determining which are which. We have learned something else from our mushrooms. We can always make discoveries traveling around the world, but we can also make discoveries just by paying attention to what is in our own backyards.

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