There are several journeyman tasks that a new-comer to Oregon must live through before one can confidently call oneself an Oregonian. One is to learn how to pronounceOregon (or-a-gin, short i) – No other way, please! Another is to experience the seasons here for at least two years, so that you can get a true feel for the character and personality of each season. I’ve lived in many other areas of the US, but none with such a distinct seasonal differentiation as in Oregon. I truly doubt that many non-residents of Oregon would know that from July to October, Oregon is characteristically in a total drought – I sure didn’t, before I moved here. And then in October, usually, it starts to rain, and gradually builds, and builds, until it has at last driven you to an illness which is commonly known as “cabin fever” – and then you can’t wait for the drought to begin again.
But those first rains of October are some of the most welcome rains of the year, especially for those of us who ‘shroom – we call them, the mushroom rains. And as if by man-made schedule, it has been raining here for the past week, with a few days of sun to break the monotony. Probably at least 3 inches by now, which is perfect for motivating the chanterelles, boletes, and matsutakes to bloom. Today is Saturday, and I NEVER venture into the woods on a weekend day – simply too many other pickers – and I don’t like to be reminded that I have competition. So, my first foray into the woods since the mushroom rains have come will be Monday or Tuesday at the earliest. And when I’m in my purist state of mind, I will only go out on Thursday or Friday, because that gives the mushrooms 4 or 5 days of growing time since the weekend pickers covered those same spots.
I’ve heard some very experienced mushroomers say that the fall rains are not the prime mover of the mushroom bloom; they point to some complex combination of cold nights and hot days, two true chartacteristics of an Oregon indian summer. But in my experience, I’ve never seen a real mushroom flush occur without significant rain! The temperatures may play a role in the extent of the bloom, but I stay convinced that without those fall mushroom rains, the mushrooms would stay underground.
I’ll let you know later this week what those mushroom rains have wrought – I’m bettin’ plenty!