sometimes i wonder to myself, how can i combine my love of nature, my passion for eating, and my propensity for danger? combing the northeastern forest for edible wild mushrooms is how! i've always had a hands-off approach to all the mushrooms i've encounter while naturing. it's not like the idea of eating mushrooms hasn't popped up in my mind before, but i never felt my mycological expertise was great enough that i could identify an edible one versus one that'd make me sick or potentially kill me. that all changed tonight, when i went to paid lecture at harvard university hosted by the boston mycological club. i smelled the room before i found it, the strong odor of fungi. laid out on tables were various mushroom specimens, and people were circling around, identifying the species and writing the name on a card next to the mushroom. most of the folks there were late middle age or older. there were the definite mushroom nerds, as well as thegrandmothers, and the occasional epicurean looking to expand his/her food palette. the speaker was a man with long hair tied in a ponytail hopping around the room in his bare feet. he gave a well-organized slideshow presentation on the history of mycophagy, the dangers, the rewards, and finally a list along with photos of his favorite gourmet wild mushrooms. i learned to never mix mushrooms (unless you're familiar with them), to always leave some (for identification purposes, in case i need to go to the hospital), and anyone who's dabbled in eating wild mushrooms will have personal stories of mushroom poisoning, it's just how these people roll (you can never entirely predict how your body will react to a wild mushroom). you have to admire these folks, the same sort of "would you die for your food?" mentality that fugu diners have, i see it here as well. i'm curious to try it though, i've never eaten wild mushrooms before (i've only had the cultivated varieties), i want to know what they taste like, to go out into the woods and pick my own mushrooms. i seriously was impressed by all the mushroom knowledge floating around; i don't mean to brag, but up to this point, i've rarely met anyone with more knowledge about the natural world than myself. to be in a room with people with so much love (and information) for mushrooms, it was pretty incredible. although i couldn't see myself as a mushroom nerd, i'd be tempted to join the society next year, just to tap into that inexhaustable brain trust of mushroom knowledge. the lecture was only supposed to be an hour but it ran almost 2 hours. i left before 9pm, visions of wild mushrooms dancing in my head.
i came home and ate the prepared dinner my father had delivered earlier in the evening. jawei and i watched as the angels beat the yankees to advance to the ALCS. this morning i was roused out of bed not by my alarm but by this awful feeling of stress over the amount of coding work i have to do for the month of october. since it was a columbus day holiday, i figured the clients would all still be on their long weekend and i'd have a day to slowly catch up. no such luck. waiting in my inbox were e-mails from clients, pushing me for updates on the projects, the kind of messages where the subject line is ALL-CAPS to denote urgency. i essentially woke up and started working. working in silence too, completely focused. jawei didn't have classes today so he was home the whole day, but the weather outside was so depressing, he stayed indoors, he in his room, me in mine. i couldn't even stop for lunch, i ate a pastry and a can of corn while continuing my work. by 5pm i called it quits, but it's only a temporary reprieve; this will be the pattern for the rest of the week, if not the rest of the month. at least the weather's lousy, zero temptation to leave the house.