winter mushrooms

It’s the first days of March, and here in the UK we’ve had a whole week of snow. I’d have preferred it on Christmas Day, but hey, snow is snow. Better late than never.

So what have I been up to? Well, I’ve been hunting winter mushrooms. No, not outside. God, it’s sub-zero out there, and I’m way too lazy to drag my backside out into that cold. I was hunting on the interwebs, safe in the warm embrace of the central heating. And the mushrooms weren’t for my omelette either. I needed them for a story. It’s all book research, don’tcha know.

And why do I need mushrooms in winter? Well, unfortunately, I’ve had to strand a couple of my characters in the middle of a winter forest, and while it’s all frosty and magical and pretty to look at, it’s not exactly food heaven. Even squirrels know better than to be out and about—so rodent soup is out of the question for my characters. And see that chirpy robin redbreast up on yonder branch? Yeah, he’s more puff and feathers than meat. Not that my characters have a snowball’s chance in hell of catching him. They’re all thumbs with anything remotely resembling a bow and arrow. And don’t even get me started on hunting traps. The klutzes would probably ambush themselves.

So I thought, why not mushrooms.

‘Winter mushrooms’ to be precise.

And that’s how I ended up on a grand mushroom hunt over the wild expanses of Google. I was finding such tasty morsels as ‘The Giant Puffball’, ‘Honey Fungus’, and even ’Slippery Jack’, enough of them to feed a small frost-bitten army. The only trouble was all these mushrooms suddenly shrivel up and disappear as soon as the clock tiptoes into November. Christmas spirits they ain’t. And fat lot of good that does for my shivering starving characters.

I persevered, however (because I’m stubborn like that), and after much dirt sifting I discovered this delicate morsel—the aptly named Angel’s Bonnet.

Angel's Bonnet

It may look like it wouldn’t say ‘boo’ to a snowflake, but it’s actually hardy enough to poke its head out of the ground on a brisk winter day when every other living thing is cowering from the cold.

But there’s a catch (oh, there’s always a catch). Eat a handful of these beauties and at best you’ll end up with your stomach in knots and your head down a toilet. And at worst? Well, who knows. Any volunteers?

Though at least the cunning little buggers warn you. They smell of iodoform (eau de hospital ward). Very kind of them to let you know where you’re headed if you start dreaming of fried bonnets.

Anyway, I was back where I started: stuck in a winter forest with rapidly fading characters and not a supermarket in sight. So what’s an author to do?

Well, I never thought it would come to this, but… RALLY THE TROOPS! We march forth to raid the nearest farmer’s chicken coop.

Have a great weekend, snow or not.

p.s. A lot of unexpected changes happened over the past year and slowed me down a bit. So rather than keep you waiting an eternity for the next book, I’ll be serializing what I’ve written here on the blog. It’s a Beauty and the Beast variaton. First part next week 😉