Only one month has passed since your summer holidays and you are already running low on energy? I hate to bring this up, but it is less than 100 days till Christmas, and may I remind you: this time is your turn to have the family over on Christmas Eve. In other words, you need to get a grip soon. Do I hear someone having hyperventilation symptoms in the background?
Well, worry no more! I know exactly what will help you destress and re-energize just in time for stuffing that turkey: berry and mushroom picking in the Finnish nature! Yeap! You heard me right. Foraging for lingonberries and winter mushrooms is the perfect antidote to autumn fatigue. And thanks to the “everyman’s right” legislation, the Finnish countryside is technically all yours to enjoy.
Last Sunday, I had the most relaxing time, walking with my family in the forest, simply enjoying the serenity of Finnish nature, while doing some…you guessed it! berry and mushroom picking!
Me and berry picking
In the past, I had always regarded mushroom and berry picking as a backbreaking and useless activity. Why on earth should I self-willingly enter a mosquito-infested area in search of something, that I can effortlessly buy at any supermarket? – was my argument, when my wife brought up the matter. She would then roll her eyes and exit the room murmuring something about Greeks always wanting to have it the easy way, which is not particularly untrue, but have never agreed to it.
Nonetheless, after spending a good 17 years in the Nordic countries, I have finally “achieved” the status of enjoying berry/mushroom picking in the Finnish nature. My berry-picking alter ego would rush to the nearest forest as long as the following apply:
1. It is autumn, meaning there are no hostile mosquitoes, apart from the occasional deer flies,
2. The weather is still mellow, thus allowing participating in the expedition without the need of a dress code like that of the “Transformer” in the “Age of Extinction” ,
3. There are no elks or bears around, meaning there is a only a slight chance of ending up on a tree.
Having said this, the Finnish forests are particularly beautiful in autumn. They are comforting and warm, like a mother’s hug. OK, I am getting old, I know. There is really no need to remind me all the time 🙂 …or am I becoming a Finn? Now I’m confused. Which one could it be? Maybe it’s both, after all.
The art of berry and mushroom picking
Finnish nature can be really generous, when it comes to berries and mushrooms. You just need to have the “right eye” for it, especially when it comes to mushrooms. I have always admired my wife on how effortlessly she spots mushrooms hidden almost entirely under thick foliage. After our last forest expedition, I am now convinced that also our daughter has inherited her mother’s gift. I am exactly the opposite. I can not find a mushroom, even if it is in front of my (Greek) nose. Or maybe because of it…
Other important qualities to successful berry and mushroom picking are patience, persistence and staying focused. Last but not least, you need to know which mushrooms are edible and which are not.
Once you have mastered the above, mushroom and berry picking can be a relaxing activity, even fun, unless your other option of spending the day is partying in South Beach.
Sebastian Canaves from Off The Path is a great travel blogger and a great guy too. In his article “Exploring the Saimaa Region in South Eastern Finland“, Sebastian writes about the essence of berry picking, and believe me, I couldn’t say it any better.
Chanterelle risotto anyone?
My favorite part of foraging is when I come across a beauty like this one:
…and her friends:
…still ignorant of the tragic fate that awaits them:
You are probably wondering what we did with the lingonberries. Right? Ta-da!!
Oh boy! I suddenly feel so relaxed. I think I am going to take a short nap now. Will you pardon me? Thank you.
Have you ever been berry or mushroom picking?