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A Picking Adventure continued

A close up of a lovely Psilocybe semilanceata Image Courtesy of Peter Bergson

Before them lay the vast expanse of some of the most pristine magic mushroom picking land England had to offer. It was a field they found years ago, on experimental forays into this wilderness, and was the jewel in their magic mushroom picking crown. They had the field completely to themselves and were clearly the first shroomers to arrive here. It was pristine, unspoilt and completely un-picked, virgin shroom land. It was the stuff you dreamed about. They were both buzzing now, full of anticipation and expectancy. They walked past the tree.

"Ha" Dave cracked stooping down. He bent up and proffered his hand to John. Clutched between his fingertips were three small brown mushrooms – but they were unmistakable – John had seen them many times before – Liberty Caps. Dave's smile was infectious. John looked down, and straight away saw one too. A single solitary shroom - no wait – to the right was another one, and another… and another greeted his eyes as they arced round. Not ten feet in and they'd already hit their first family. This field was truly special. "Whhhheeee haaaaaa !!!" John screamed like some rodeo star – "Wheeeehaaa" Dave chimed in. Both were enjoying themselves despite the weather.

Of course Dave pulled a spliff out from under his jacket to celebrate the moment, but John was hardly going to complain – why not – it was fuckn' good gear. Picking and spliffs were born for each other. It was part of their ritual. They walked slowly now, relaxed but alert, occasionally exchanging the joint. They didn't get far, before they saw more mushrooms. It was hard not to see them – they were everywhere.

The next hour passed and the initial excitement of being in shroom paradise had settled down into a methodical shroom gathering exercise. Both of them were now tuned in to their surroundings – to the point they were spotting shrooms with their peripheral vision alone. Dave found himself almost lost in his thoughts – his mind was relaxed, but focussed, processing what it saw, and analysing it for anything that resembled shrooms. To him, hunting mushrooms was more like a state of being then anything else. To be good at picking it was necessary to be able to relax yet be aware of the smallest details, looking for visual clues or the slightest hints of what could be their quarry poking up from out the grass. Most of the time these mushrooms were very small – and the grass was taller – they were very easy to walk past (something Dave hated to do) – but Dave walked past few – or few got past him. He felt that you almost developed a sense for where they might be instinctively after a while. Often he would spot one single mushroom, seemingly alone. On stooping down to collect it, he would follow his usual ritual, of stopping, gazing in a visual arc taking in an immediate 3-4 feet scanning radius all around the spot where the mushroom was. It was amazing how often mushrooms that he had not seen initially, suddenly materialised into view before him.

If he couldn't see any immediately, he would increase the scope of the scan taking in more ground, and do another sweep with his eyes, trying to work out which direction to head next. Often a shroom on the perimeter of his vision would announce itself, deciding this for him, other times, a particular patch of grass – green, fresh and tufty would offer promise of shrooms potentially hiding amongst its blades. Or that 10 feet to the right, the grass was particularly well grazed, and shorter then the grass around it – Dave knew from experience, that well grazed grass yielded the biggest hauls of mushrooms , so he was always on the look out for it. To be honest he wasn't even aware of what he was doing now, the whole process was automatic. It was easy to simply lose oneself in the whole involved nature that is shroom hunting. To Dave, it was perhaps one of the most absorbing, therapeutic and rewarding past times nature has to offer – Dave never got bored of the buzz or excitement from spotting a large group of shrooms he affectionately called villages. He never got bored of shrooming - period. It was simply the best hobby a person could wish for. It always pushed his senses to razor sharpness. The mushrooms just seemed to jump into his consciousness, like little light houses and beacons. He could spot even the smallest ones from 20 feet away. He didn't know what it was, but there was just something about them. They were designed for humans to find them.

God the shrooms were plentiful this year he thought quietly to himself. He was beginning to get a sore back from all the bending down he was doing. It was monotonous work, carefully plucking the shrooms one by one, and occasionally two or three at a time, and popping them into his shroompod, the purpose built vessel he had designed himself.

He moved his hood back with his hand, which had suddenly slipped annoyingly down across his eyes. The rain was a persistent drizzle now and the fog still clung thickly and sombrely around them. He suddenly became aware how quiet this place was and had a feeling of loneliness. The only thing he could hear was the wind and rain against his waterproof. A realisation suddenly dawned on him. He looked up, looking around. He hadn't spoke or heard from John for over an hour now. The feeling that he was alone was unsettling.

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