Our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks.
For the most part, I agree with this. I love the (good) unexpected. These are the little gems that add spice to our lives.
Countrymouse and I routinely take our weekend morning coffee on the front porch (in our pajamas) when the weather permits. It's one of my favorite parts of the weekends, especially summer weekends. Before heading out to the porch Saturday morning, we spotted these in our backyard (psst... ignore the really tall (crappy) grass)...
I was pretty tickled because they seemed to have sprouted overnight. What a nice way to start the morning.
I really didn't give much more thought to the mushrooms. I like mushrooms a lot but I would never consider eating any that I hadn't bought from a proper market. My parents had always said, "Don't eat the mushrooms", as they warned against eating wild mushrooms... and being the obedient child that I was, I heeded. (The horrific stories about poisoning yourself may have had something to do with it.) Thinking back on it now, I am not sure how many mushrooms, let alone poisonous mushrooms, grow wild in New York City, where I grew up.
Our neighbor, Bernard, didn't have such cautious parents. He grew up in France, where it is not uncommon to forage for edible plants on roadsides and random green spaces. Bernard continues this practice here in the US and mushrooms seem to be one of his most common finds. (Think: a French Euell Gibbons.) When we spotted Bernard from our porch Saturday morning, Countrymouse was excited to show him the overnight mushroom crop. Bernard was equally as excited to harvest a few. Countrymouse listened in awe as Bernard educated him on what to look for when harvesting wild mushrooms. I could see he had big plans for the mushrooms Bernard left behind. With my parents' admonition of "Don't eat the mushrooms" ringing in my head, I thought I should at least try them. Apparently, motivated by thoughts of the mushroom bounty in the our yard, Bernard went directly home and cooked up his batch and promptly shared them with Countrymouse.
As Countrymouse entered the house, he was munching on the last few bites of a big bowl of mushrooms. He offered a taste and I obliged (although I could swear I heard a voice saying, "Don't eat the mushrooms"). It was warm and garlicky, which I liked, but it also was soft and slimy like a raw oyster, which didn't sit well with me. (I adore raw oysters. I just don't want my mushrooms tasting that way.)
We all went about our day. Later in the afternoon, Bernard paid another visit to our house. He was sweaty and looking peaked. He kept insisting that we should not eat any of the mushrooms in the yard because "it was too hot" and we "weren't use to eating "like that'" (whatever that means). In spite of what he said not making much sense to me, I agreed. When Countrymouse came hobbling in the house with the single-minded mission of making it to the bathroom before something terrible happened, I found sudden enlightenment. Let's just say that I lost count of his trips to the bathroom. Eventually, my little taste of slimy mushroomness needed to get out and I spent a portion of my afternoon in the bathroom as well, all the time thinking, "Don't eat the mushrooms".
All is well now. Nothing like a bit of self-induced food poisoning to make you take notice to what you're eating. I don't think in the 23 years I've been a parent I have ever told my kids "Don't eat the mushrooms" but it's definitely on the top of my list of warnings now. They'll probably think I'm giving them a drug talk, but either way it's good.
The obvious moral to my story is, Don't eat the mushrooms, but the behind the scenes lesson is, don't always trust your crazy neighbors.