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Knife Wielding Strangers or Mom's Nature Study

For who has despised the day of small things? - Zechariah 4:10

So, this day started out like so many others.  I'm walking by the woods near the school at 5:45 a.m. and I see a familiar sight - strangers quickly parking their cars and  entering the woods with knives!  I tell myself, "Today I will solve this mystery."
a nature journal I like for inspiration



I introduce myself and begin asking questions.  Sam and his Grandmother are from Laos.  They are in the woods this morning gathering mushrooms!  They make soup with them everyday.  Sam answered all my questions.  Here's what he told me:

-don't pick the grey ones.  And if the rice turns grey that you cook them with, don't eat them
-he called them "cottonwood mushrooms" because they only grow under cottonwood trees
-he could feel with his feet  the smallest mushroom buttons growing under the leaves
-he could get $10.00 per sandwich baggie for these
-he used to pick by Cottonwood Lake, but now they spray and have killed off the mushrooms over there

I brought home a mushroom and a leaf from the cottonwood tree for a nature notebook entry.


This raises all sorts of questions for me, such as
1.  Why do they pick in the early morning?
2.  Are there cottonwood trees in Laos?
3.  What exactly is the relationship between the cottonwood and the mushroom?
4.  What type of mushroom is it, exactly?

And you know, I did look up some of these answers, but it's okay to not answer them all.  I will find out in time.
I love these older Golden Nature Guides!



Charlotte Mason said in the section titled, "Mothers and Teachers should Know About Nature", that
The mother cannot devote herself too much to this kind of reading, not only that she may read tit-bits to her children about matters they have come across, but that she may be able to answer their queries and direct their observations.  And not only the mother, but any woman, who is likely ever to spend an hour or two in the society of children, should make herself mistress of this sort of information; the children will adore her for knowing what they want to know, and who knows but she may give its bent for life to some young mind designed to do great things for the world. 1.65
I encourage moms to keep their own nature notebook and do their own reading.  It's that example that may make all the difference in your school and life. (And as you can see, it isn't about your artistic abilities!)   The kids were tickled that "mom talked to the people with knives!", and they listened to my tale and watched me work in my notebook.  What happened next?  Well, Marit (dd14) suggested that some mushrooms might taste good with our steaks this evening and could I show her the spot and let her find some?
DD14 with her found treasure!


Just this one small thing turns into something that isn't small at all.  Pretty cool coming from this momma who has been warned since childhood never to pick wild mushrooms and who has steered clear of them for most of her life.

From joy to joy,
Nancy

P.S. - I guess if you don't hear from me again, you'll know exactly what happened! ;-)





21 comments:

  1. Ha, ha! I'll be looking for you on facebook to see if you made it. :-) Sounds like a neat experience.

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  2. What an interesting day! When we lived in Italy, there were signs in the woods saying that mushroom-picking was prohibited. People didn't mind if you walked in their woods, but they weren't standing for anyone stealing their mushrooms. It reminded me of Frodo Baggins and Farmer Cotton.

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    1. Dear Sarah,
      I love how you just toss out there, "When we lived in Italy..." - what a rich time that must have been! That is funny about the mushrooms. It's a whole different world, as I've been finding out!
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      From joy to joy,
      Nancy

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  3. I love the small Golden Nature guides. I've found a set of four, in my book gleaning travels. Our nature studies this week have included researching Hogweed! "Don't touch it ever." There is an amazing world outside our backdoors. Another curious mushroom to learn about is stinkhorn. My husband and I both baffled as he described this to me, and not too many days later, we came across what he was talking about while purusing Apologia biology lab. Curiousity with asking the questions, is a great way to role.

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    1. Dear MrsCuz,

      Stinkhorn? Now I'm really curious!

      From joy to joy,
      Nancy

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  4. I certainly do not despise the day of small things, since most of my days are just so. This post reminds me of "poke sallet," which is a wild plant that's poisonous when raw. People eat it like spinach or turnip greens. I have to say I've not tried this particular dish, but both of my parents ate it quite a bit in their childhoods. Once, my mother pointed it out to me, growing in the "wild part" of my backyard!

    I adore the idea of a nature journal and have even tried to get them going for myself and my daughters. But we've never been able to keep them going for long at all. Alas.

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    1. Dear Ellen,
      I need to talk to my mom more about interesting things she ate as a girl on her Missouri farm!
      Making the nature journal a habit is a tough go - I wasn't terribly consistent with my first two. But eventually I made it a regular activity and now I just HAVE to record things when I discover them! It has enriched my life.

      Thanks for your thoughts, Ellen.

      From joy to joy,
      Nancy

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  5. What a neat story! :) I'm determined to be more faithful to our nature journals...especially mine! After all, isn't more "caught than taught"?! :)

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    1. Dear Amy,
      You are so right!

      From joy to joy,
      Nancy

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  6. I just love when orchestrates these moments. I have a little collection of the Golden Nature Guides too (bought used, of course). We have our favorite fairy rings on the road behind the CVS and we sometimes visit them. Drawing mushrooms in my notebook makes me think of Beatrix Potter and her drawings of mushrooms, although mine pale in comparison. Pamela is doing watercolors of a trio of mushrooms in her watercolor class.

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    1. Tammy,
      Now fairy rings - those are magical! Can't wait to see Pamela's mushrooms - do post pics!

      From joy to joy,
      Nancy

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  7. When GOD orchestrates these moments. It's hard to type and answer Pamela's questions at the same time....

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  8. Nancy, that is one of my favorite quotes in Volume 1. I quickly discovered that by keeping a journal myself, a few of my kids are quick to grab theirs whenever I'm working on it : D

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    1. Dear Jenny,
      Mine too!!! Imagine the gift to your children 50 years from now when they find your nature journal sketched during their childhoods!

      From joy to joy,
      Nancy

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  9. Oh, lovely! I love that you keep a nature journal. I'd started (with the kids), but it fell off a while back. You've re-inspired me to take it back up.

    Thanks for sharing about Janet Marsh's Nature Diary ... I'm going to look for it at the library.

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    1. Glory Bea,
      Janet Marsh's Nature Diary is set in England, just so you know. It is beautiful and inspiring!

      Do keep us posted on YOUR nature journaling!

      From joy to joy,
      Nancy

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  10. I love this mystery story! Wonderful, wonderful.

    My husband likes to forage, and he has some favorite mushrooms that he finds. He's received info from some fellow-foragers, but some people are quite secretive as they don't want their favorite spots looted. :)

    With your list, there are still more mysteries to be solved...and the answers might lead to more questions. Isn't life great?!

    You also post the best book finds. I'm very attracted to this book cover and want to find it! I'm on the quest!!

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    1. And your journaling is inspiring to me!

      From joy to joy,
      Nancy

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  11. My copy arrived yesterday, thanks Nancy!

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  12. We've done some mushroom classes at our local nature center. My youngest loves mushroom hunting! It is a bit dangerous to pick them wild in our area, since we are known to have the deadliest varieties with such names as Death Cap and Destroying Angel. We do have puffballs, which are supposed to be very good, but tend to resemble a piece of decrepit Styrofoam. A good source I've found is Wild Man Steve Brill's website (easy to find in a Google search). He's done a lot of foraging tours in our area and in NYC's Central Park.

    Hope your mushrooms were yummy!

    Peace and Laughter!

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