fringe benefits

Back in the fall of 2011 I started collecting green wood from dump piles around town, and since I kept coming across new species I was soon gathering wood faster than I could use it.  In order to keep the green wood from checking before I could mill it or put it on the lathe, I took to stashing it in large plastic trash bags underneath the tables in my shop.  Some of that wood is still hanging around, including a section of figured maple that gave birth to this beauty:

My friends Garret and Sarah had come down to the shop for a tour one evening, and as Sarah rounded a table she asked, “Is that a mushroom?”  Indeed.  It had to have sprung up very quickly, as it would have been difficult for me to miss for more than a day or two.

As much as I love edible wild plants, I’ve always been timid about wild mushrooms.  But thanks to the distinctive morphology and complimentary spray of spores, I was able to identify these as Oyster Mushrooms– good eating!  I sampled a small section, and after no ill effects proceeded to fry up a plate full the next day.  I’d guess that the total weight of the harvest was about three pounds.  I gave half of it to my friends (finder’s fee!) and dried the rest for use in soups.