September 23, 2009

The Autumns Of My Past.

Mushrooms symbolizes to me the autumns of my childhood. As far back as I can remember, we used to go for weekend hikes, to pick mushrooms with my parents. Starting in the end of August all through October, we would walk and comb the woods in the mountains, in the immediate vicinity of my birthplace, when I was a little girl.

I was born under the majestic Tatra Mountains, in north eastern Slovakia, in proximity of the Polish border. This part of Europe contains the most pristine and to date, still unspoiled and undiscovered nature.
I am often told by my parents that they experienced the best part of their lives living under these mountains. When I was a child, I spend almost every afternoon with my father in their vicinity. He would take me on long walks, placing me into a stroller or into a sled, depending on the season. One can say, that I spend the first years of my life mostly outdoors, surrounded by breathtaking nature. Perhaps that is when my incurable love for it was born.

Once I start to remember the autumn hikes taken with my family, I see in my memory the golden an red coloured spots here and there, among all the evergreen spruce trees, with the tall snowy peaks of the Tatras as a backdrop. The last five years out of the thirteen which I spend in my home land, preceding the immigration to Sweden, were spend in a more central part of eastern Slovakia. This is a softer natural environment called "The Slovak Paradise". It is a national park, with rolling hills and a multitude of rich wooded areas, lined by pristine meadows; all perfect for mushroom picking in the early onset of autumn.

My parents continued with this traditional autumn activity even upon our relocation to Sweden. In fact, the Swedish nature was abundant with this forest fruit, as the Swedes, or the Scandinavians for that matter, do not really enjoy mushroom picking as much as the central Europeans do. At least they pick quiet different kinds. I still recall the beautiful autumn weekends, when we returned from long hikes with baskets full of mushrooms and the way my mother would prepare these in the evening. The best ones were neatly cleaned, thinly sliced and dried, to be used later in the year in soups and winter cuisine.

Unfortunately, the tradition of mushroom picking has not been passed onto me, nor my sister, I believe. Today I can no longer adequately distinguish the poisonous ones from the edible ones and therefore I do not dare to pick them. A great shame. Particularly, as my backyard offers a plethora of mushrooms right now and most of them I do indeed recognize from the autumn walks I used to take in my childhood.


Helen McGinn said...

I love mushrooms! It's the imagery from a childhood spent in books, no doubt. :O)

Your photographs are lovely, glad I dropped by (from Scotland).
H x

Unknown said...

Amazing images!
Mushrooms are so autumn!!!
I am impresses at the pictures of your country!

Gal Friday said...

My sister invited me to come with her to a "mushroom identification" class at a forestry center this weekend(but I can't go because I have to work the extra day)--I think I would still be a little unsure of what I was picking was safe to eat. But to be able to forage for wild mushrooms would be a great thing, as long as you knew what you were doing(and I love mushrooms)
I don't know much about some parts of central Europe, but am surprised when I see the photos of places like you showed(the Tatras)--so wild and probably still mostly unspoiled. *sigh* So many beautiful places in the world I would love to visit....

Reasons said...

A lovely description of your childhood here Zuzana. Mum and Dad look very healthy on it too!

Betsy Brock said...

I have never been mushroom picking! It sounds so fun...and rewarding, bringing home all those yummy delectables! I bet you could find rules of distinguishing them right on the internet! Soup is waiting...right in your backyard! :)

Keith said...

That was such a wonderful post. I love mushrooms. I actually didn't like them when I was younger. I've never picked them before.

Brian Miller said...

love a good walk in the woods. dont trust myself pickin the mushrooms, but do enjoy them sauteed.

Jill from Killeny Glen said...

I, too, love mushrooms but have never picked them. I have not ever thought of mushrooms as pretty or beautiful but this collection that you have truly are pretty!

Claus said...

The Slovak Paradaise is a paradaise indeed. It's actually how I imagine mountains and nature in Europe. You are very lucky to have spent and experience with family such a childhood, which most definitely has marked you in the best of ways for life.

I like to look at mushrooms. Saw a couple as a matter of fact this past weekend, while walking with the dogs, and photographing the pine cones! Don't know how to recognize the edible from the bad ones, but I don't like mushrooms anyways, so they will remain to me as a pretty natural thing to look at. Can you find pine cones in the forests in Slovakia? or in Scandinavia? That would be my picking choice through walks! I love pine cones! :-)

Reading Tea Leaves said...

Although I love walking in the woods I have never done any mushroom pikcing, due mostly to the fact that I would not be able to identify them adequately. When we were in Italy a couple of years ago the guest house owner/chef made wonderful recipes containing mushrooms and truffles he had picked himself that morning! I do believe it is a favourite pastime in rural Italy, just as in your homeland.

Jeanne x

Unknown said...

How wonderful that you have a Love in your heart for nature and all things beautiful! I love stopping by here...always!!!:D)

Mahmud Yussop said...

Dare I say what a beautiful title you give to your post. The appearing and disappearing act of autumn imagery fits well into our constant effort to pick up the pieces of our lovely past experiences as we continue to consume life for the better of it .The pictures of trees, mountains and mushrooms are extremely delightful for me to see. Its awesome. Thanks for sharing.

Cat in the road said...

Thanks for the comments, especially for “Memoirs of the lone rider.” You and I have very similar writing styles. Our descriptions are heartfelt. The way you describe scenes, and the addition of your photos, turns it into a virtual tour of Sweden. The template you commented on is called, “Aspire.” (

Rosezilla (Tracie Walker) said...

What a beautiful childhood! It's too bad you don't know the good from the bad mushrooms so you could carry on such a lovely tradition. Could your parents teach you? Lovely picture of your parents, by the way. Autumn is the only season I miss from the north. My son just moved north and the leaves are beginning to change. Here we are still in the 90s, yikes!

Julie Hibbard said...

I LOVE mushrooms eat them and to LOOK at them! They are delicious with butter and onions...
and look funky and cute on my lawn.
I would not dare to pick them and eat them. I have always heard that the ones in my yard will be poisonous. Would not want to risk that!
I love your montage.

Unknown said...

i love mushrooms. Since the day i was introduced to smurfs been imagining them all living on it. hihihi.

Wow those photos are just amazing. I love the forest. Been dreming of camping. When i was young the closest to camping we can get is spending the whole day on my dad's farm. I like it so much there. I like taking a bath with the carabaos. Wow i miss that.

thanks for telling these amazing stories. It brings me to a happy place.

sprinkles said...

It sounds like you had a beautiful childhood!

I'm not for mushrooms and I never particularly thought they were beautiful but your pictures show they can be.

Zuzana said...

thank you so much for your kind words.;) And I am so glad you stopped by, please come back again.;)

thank you so much, I am glad you enjoyed the images.;)xo

I still think I could pick up the edible ones, but sill I am way too scared.;) The class could have been fun too bad.;)) I agree with you, so many places, so little time right?;) Your comments always warm my heart.;)) xoxo

glad you enjoyed this post and thank you for your kind comment; my parents would love to read it.;) xo

you are so right, I should do it, but i have still a bit of fear of picking the wrong ones nevertheless.;) Always appreciate your visits.;) xo

so glad you enjoyed this post.;) Yes, mushroom picking is not so common everywhere.;)) Always enjoy when you stop by.:)

agree with you on every word.;)) Love them in food, any kind at any time.;))

glad I could make mushrooms look pretty.)) Always love your kind and optimistic comments.;) xoxo

it must be strange to you with us eating mushrooms picked in the woods.;)) Hehe.;)) Yes, we have plenty of pine cones, here in Scandinavia and even in Slovakian mountains. Most of the vegetation in the woods is spruce trees and they have many kind of cones. I like the as much as you do and I pick them and use them as decoration at home:;)) In fact I have used them numerous times in my picture collages here.;))
Thank you for always taking time to stop by dear friend.;)

I agree with you completely.;)) Love eating them, can not really pick them.;) I have once spend ten day in Tuscany and i know exactly what you mean, it was magnificent experience in every way, even a culinary one;))
Always happy when you stop by.;)

that was so kind of you to say, thank you. I always enjoy your visits.;)

ah, thank you my good old friend, you always leave the most profound and kind comments, I love reading them.;) I am so happy you enjoyed this walk down my memory lane.;)
May I say what a dashing new profile picture, love it.;))

you are completely correct. I really like reading your posts as the thoughts within and the way you write is familiar to me.
Yes, Aspire, that is it - I almost used it for my blog, but changed my mind in the last minute.;))
Thank you for your kind and poignant words and your visits.;)

yes, too bad my parents are too far away to spend autumn with me.;))
Your poor son must be suffering, missing the tropical heat of his home.;)) Here the foliage is turning as well.;))
Thank you so much for stopping by.;) xo

I agree with everything; I too am a bit worried about ending up in the ER.;)) Thank you for kind compliments on my collage - your comments always make me happy.;)) xo

I never thought about that, but of course smurfs did live in a mushroom; but i think that one was for sure not edible.;))
Thank you for your kind words and for stopping by.;)) xo

I sure did have a good childhood.;)) Glad I can make mushrooms look appealing to you.;) Thank you for stopping by.;))xo

Hilary said...

Yum.. I love 'shrooms! Beautiful post, Z and your parents sure are a wholesome and great-looking couple.

swenglishexpat said...

Wonderful memories you have! I can understand your reluctance to pick mushrooms. My ex-mother-in-law took me and my son once to her secret mushroom place, a field with a herd of cows, and we picked gigantic mushrooms, whose name I cannot remember right now, and they tasted absolutely divine! Last year I picked some here in Germany after extensive research on the net. Then I learned that that area was a "Naturschutzgebiet" (protected area), so I avoided breaking the law this year, but I noticed that somebody else had picked them, there one day, gone the following day!

sallymandy said...

Z, I thoroughly enjoyed your reminiscences of the mountains of your childhood, and autumn walks spent looking for mushrooms. The Tatras look magnificent and must have had a deep impression on your life. Beautiful...thank you.

Zuzana said...

so glad you too enjoy mushrooms.;) And my parents they would be so happy to read your comment.;) Your visits are always so very special to me dear friend.;) xo

yes, yes, I am so sure that Germans are avid mushroom pickers.;)) In my family we pick the "Karl Johan svamp" the most and another art that resembles it but grows in birch woods. Those are actually on my pictures here, at least some of them.;))

I am happy dear friend that you enjoyed this post, your comment warms my heart. I know you love trees and mountains, you are a mountain girl just like me.;))