I was making rose-hip jam (kind of insane, I thought at one point as I sliced each hip in two and removed the seeds: 4 cups worth…) with the beautiful fruit of the Rosa canina growing up one side of the house —
when I looked out the window over the kitchen sink. This fawn, almost spotless, was sniffing the pile of logs from an alder tree blown down in last weekend’s storm:
This fawn and its mum have been around a lot lately. In fact, I think this is the same mum who brought two very tiny fawns in early summer to browse on the tips of roses growing through the deer-proof fence around the vegetable garden. A little later, there was just one fawn. This one. We have our memory-maps of the woods and mountain near our house — where chanterelles grow (and they were delicious on pizza last night!), where to see the first shoots of death camas and then the ghostly white flowers, the pond where the tree frogs and long-toed salmanders lay eggs in early spring. And I guess the deer (and bears, grouse, elk, bobcats, weasels…) have their memory-maps too. Where a few sweet rose-leaves can be nibbled or a tendril of cucumber vine edging out of its box. Where a crabapple tree is strong enough for a bear to climb at dawn on autumn morning before a woman at a sink sees and comes out with a dishcloth to chase it away.
The mushroom has a traveller’s face. We know there
are men and women in Old People’s Homes whose souls
prepare now for a trip, which will also be a marriage.
— from “The Mushroom” by Robert Bly
This has been a rich season for mushrooms. Chanterelles, shaggy manes, a gift of dried porcini from my friend Anik who spent the summer in Dawson City, and the coveted matsutake, or pine mushroom. The week before last, we found about 20 of them on our walk, in a place where we usually find a handful. Another walk yielded more. And today, unexpected treaure on the Sakinaw loop walk. Tonight we’re having pizza — dough for the crust is rising by the woodstove and in a few minutes I’ll pick some kale. Delicious fresh mozzarella from Fairburn Farm water buffalos. Garlic from the summer’s bounty. And some proscuitto from, well, who knows. And a matsutake thinly sliced and sauteed in a little olive oil. A marriage of autumn flavours, gifts from garden and forest, before winter appears over the mountain.