Mushrooms, Me, and You

by Jennifer Frazer on March 29, 2010

Me and Ganoderma applanatum.

Mark your calendars — I’m excited to announce I’ll be teaching “Mushrooms of the Front Range” this August 19, 21, and Sep. 4 through the Boulder County Nature Association. If you are a fan of fungi or of just expanding your natural history world in general, come join us! The course description and instructions for signing up are here — and the class size is capped at 12, so reserve your spot now.

One of the things I enjoy most about mushroom hunting is the chance it gives me to *really* get to know the forest on an intimate basis — not just the fungi, but also plants, animals, lichens, and whatevers — and how the forest changes, and what grows where, and when. If you want to understand the part of life on Earth that takes place in a forest, picking up mushroom foraying as a hobby is a great way to do it. Plus you get to see some parts of your public land that almost no one else ever sees, and that’s on top of all the bizarre things you find in the woods. Really, there are few nooks and crannies of forests near towns that haven’t been touched by man, and that detritus is sometimes sad, sometimes fascinating, and sometimes utterly bizarre. And finally, it’s so quiet and relaxing out there. If you like fishing, hiking, or meditation, you will love this. It’s kind of a hybrid. With a nerdy basket.

We’ll be holding “Mushrooms of the Front Range” in August in Boulder just after the North American Mycological Association’s 2010 annual meeting Aug. 12-15 at the YMCA of the Rockies’ Snow Mountain Ranch over by Winter Park, so I will be freshly full of new fungal ideas and tales of Colorado fungi. Speaking of that meeting, you should come if you really want to immerse yourself in the world of fungi and perhaps equally eye-opening world of fungi-lovers, spend lots of quality time seeing beautiful views, get to know the Colorado sub-alpine forest post-mountain-pine-beetle (and I won’t lie — it’s a tree graveyard in a lot of places out there), and hear all sorts of colorful lectures by world-renowned mycologists.

It will be a ridiculously affordable natural history vacation: For about $300 (if you take a bunk in a room with five others and join the Colorado Mycological Society for a mere $28 or NAMA for $35/40) you can get all the fungal knowledge/foraying you can handle; all-you-can-eat buffet meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner; and lodging for three days. Trust me, as amazing science vacations go, this is dirt cheap, and it is going to be an awesome experience, even if it’s a terrible mushroom year. And if it’s a great mushroom year, the experience will be *unforgettable*.  We may even be doing our third annual mycoblitz at Rocky Mountain National Park that week, which would allow you to take part in Citizen Science!

One final note — I have confirmed* a speaking engagement at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science for their November 3 Lunchtime Lecture series. The title has not yet been decided on, but the format will be a photographic survey of life on Earth that incorporates as much diversity as possible — one beautifully photographed organism/phylum/minute for 45 minutes with a little bit of information about each. It will be less a science talk and more a science appreciation experience. Behold, and wonder. I’ll have more information on it as the date gets closer.

* Not so confirmed after all. Maybe not happening. : ( Stay tuned.

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