Three cheers for Vera Stucky Evenson, author of The Mushrooms of Colorado. Those white mushrooms were indeed Agaricus campestris. M. and I ate them on last night's pizza, and we're still here 24 hours later. (Yes, I made spore prints too.)
The cat ate some too--he must have liked the oiliness of sauteed mushrooms--but he later left his on the bathroom floor. Cats and fungi: not a good combination.
Local knowledge can be hard to come by. When I taught an environmental-issues section of freshman composition, my student typically knew (or thought that they knew) more about the Brazilian rain forest than about the Wet Mountains, which they could see from the classroom windows, not 30 miles away.
The Pueblo Mountain Park Environmental Center has taken a good step with the publication of .Plants of Pueblo Mountain Park, which fits our ecological niche over here too. (Graphic design by Shawna Shoaf.)
This evening after supper I strapped on my authentic Lithuanian mushroom basket, and M. and I walked the ridge behind the house, picking boletes. "Probably the surest mushrooms to recognize beyond the Foolproof Four [morels, puffballs, shaggy mane, sulfur polymore] are the boletes," writes Lorentz Pearson in The Mushroom Manual.
My eccentric sister in Kaunas provided the basket. She bought it from a street vendor--it looks like an angler's creel, but it lacks the slot in the lid into which to deposit the spotted trout. Maybe it was supposed to be a creel anyway, but since the few Lithuanians I have met were mycophiles, it's a mushroom basket.
It was Germans who started us gathering boletes. Years ago, we were hiking the Horsethief Park trail on the west side of Pike's Peak when we encountered a group of elderly German women with shopping bags--typical Army brides from Colorado Springs--and they were doing some serious mushroom-picking.
They taught us boletes, and then they pointed us one way while they went another way.
One member of that particular demographic established an unfortunate reputation with the local Search and Rescue group. She was so busy one summer afternoon a couple of years ago looking down for edible fungi that she got lost and spent a chilly night in the Wets. And now the S&R people are convinced that all mushroom-hunters are distracted and easily lost.
"You look like a mushroom-gathering peasant," M. said as I scooped boletes from the pine needles. "But you're not colorful enough."