You anxiously wait for rain. But one bout of rain is not enough – the mushrooms need heavy rain and mist. Mist means the temperature is up, but it also makes your task more difficult – as a Greek proverb says, the mushroom hunter, like the wolf, can get lost in the fog. And yet, you always fall for nature’s trick. You’re impatient, and you go to the forest sooner that you should – even though you know it’s in vain. It’s the primeval urge of the hunter-gatherer that overtakes you, that makes you want to be the first to find the boletus edulis and the Caesar’s mushroom (amanita caesarea). Soon enough, you see them cropping up through the soil. It’s about time – it’s been roughly fourteen days since the first time it rained.
In spring, they need less rain – it’s humid, after all – but they still need warmth: the southern wind to bring the heat. And then, the mist needs to come once more. You have to wait for the wild asparagus to spring up in the lower plains; a week later, you go looking for morchellae, the true morels, and for calocybe gambosa. The chanterelles (cantharellus cibarius) come later. You must wait for the oak leaves to take shape; until then, you won’t find a single chanterelle. You need to know the trees, because your mushrooms live with them, together in harmony. Mushrooms help trees, and trees help mushrooms: they’re inseparable.
To pick mushrooms, you keep your gaze mainly upwards, looking at the trees. You need to know them well. Oaks, chestnut trees, wild hazels, pines, madrones (arbuti), elm trees, maple trees – they all speak to you. Them, you look to the ground. Trees, like mushrooms, love different kinds of soil: acidic or alkaline. All trees need either one or the other, but some mushrooms have no preference: they grow in acidic and in alkaline soil.
You need to look out for the dead, fallen tree trunks, and the dry standing trees. If one branch of the oak tree isn’t dry, you will not find a single chicken-of-the-woods (laetiporus sulphurous) by its trunk.