Fire, Cordage, Rope and Mushrooms

Last night we had rain, and on every wet morning we start with one match fires. This morning was no different. The ESSP students have made amazing progress with this in the short time we’ve been together. We moved onto making cordgage by hand, then making rope with spinners, and finally making rope with a geared rope spinner. Everyone made a length of rope to use for the rest of the semester.

After lunch we met with naturalist Sally Cornwell, a longtime friend and environmental educator, for a hike focusing on edible mushrooms. She lives several miles away; a ten-minute drive or a two-hour walk through the woods. Before leaving on our foray into the forest she showed us her pottery studio and some of her amazing work. We left her place and headed uphill to the end of the road and along the way encountered poison ivy along the stone wall. As we turned onto the woods road we saw where a bird was killed and Sally explained how you can tell whether it was a hawk or a ground-dwelling predator that did the killing by the way the feathers are chewed. Before we had traveled far we encountered Craterellus cornucopioides, an edible mushroom that we gathered a bunch of. We moved down the trail identifying everything in sight. When an hour had passed and we had traveled about 300 yards we decided that we needed to move a bit faster. Such is the danger of heading into the woods with a knowledgeable person – everything has a story. We scrambled up to the summit of Tumbledown Dick mountain to enjoy the view, then proceeded on our way. Traversing a small marsh, we saw moose tracks in the still water of a mud puddle, then came across some moose chews. We moved on and saw some old cellar holes and an old well that was lined with stones and 25 feet deep.

When we came to a woods road junction Sally spied a bunch of Laetiporous sulphureous, and we harvested a bunch for supper. We moved down the trail and saw some Cantharellus cibarius, another edible, before encountering a stand of birch where we saw Piptoporus betulinas, Fomes fomentarius, and Inonotus obliquus.

Rounding out our walk we examined a beaver dam and lodge, gathered some Hericium ramosum, and all made a bitter face as we ate some wild grapes.

In addition to the edible species listed, we identified and discussed a bunch of other species of fungi with a variety of uses. It was a great day with a knowledgeable and talented naturalist. If you’re ever near Wolfeboro, NH, and are looking for a fun and educational outing I highly recommend Sally Cornwell at 603-569-2541.

A bunch of photos from our day have been added to the 2006 ESSP photo gallery.

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