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Maggie’s Pantry

By Maggie Conklin
Mushroom Walk
Every second Tuesday of September I lead a mushroom walk through a hidden gem of a magical forest near Pier Cove. I started it years ago with a few good friends, it grew from there, and now my entire West Michigan Ladies Homesteaders group shows up for the fun, too.
Many people come with their favorite mushroom identification books, smart phone apps, or pencil and notebook. Everyone comes with an open mind.
We often find many different kinds of boletes, polypores, “stump mushrooms,” chicken of the woods and too many others to list. We’ve been known to find the occasional trumpet mushroom; one of my favorites.
Some are edible and delicious, some are edible and, well, kind of OK; I’d only eat them if really hungry. Some are toxic, which means they would make you sick but not kill you. Some are poisonous, which means they would likely bring you to a horrible end. And some are psychedelic, and might make you see Jesus for a few days.
Yes, now I understand why many people are afraid of eating wild mushrooms. But some are very easy to identify, have no look-alikes, and are edible and delicious, like chicken of the woods.
Some have a lot of unpleasant look-alikes, and we don’t generally even point them out. As a standard protocol I don’t point out mushrooms that I don’t know, or that I do know to be toxic or poisonous.
Oh, but we’ve found some beautiful specimens over the years. Myriad colors, sizes, shapes and locations. Some grow from the ground while others only grow on certain trees.
This annual mushroom walk is certainly not a masters’ class, but simply led to get more people interested in starting their own mycological journey. If you are interested, please meet us Tuesday Sept. 12 in the Pier Cove Beach parking lot before 6 p.m. We walk from there at 6 sharp and parking is very limited.
Hope to see you there!

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