Cornell Mushroom Blog

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2021-06-09 05:00:13

This memoir of a near-fatal mushroom poisoning was written by our most fortunate guest, Richard Eshelman. Happy Thanksgiving, all.

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006. It was a balmy day in Ithaca, New York. I went for a walk after work to sit and meditate at my favorite spot near a waterfall in Upper Buttermilk State Park. It’s really nice to have such a huge backyard cared for by the public like Upper Buttermilk. I feel privileged.

Before I left my private meditation area I did a standing STARS (Somatics Transformation and Restorative Systems) exercise called “Aligning the Three Tan Tiens.” Something inside me made me feel invincible. You know that feeling you have when you are young and feel invincible? Well, as I walked out of the wooded area I was in, I found some young mushrooms. Their caps were hanging down like closed umbrellas. I mistook them for inky caps (Coprinus spp.) even though I spotted an Amanita nearby–its cap was fully open, and not hanging down. Thinking back, I should have been more suspicious as mushrooms do grow in colonies.

I took three home with me. I couldn’t find my Mushroom book, was in a hurry, so I trusted my judgment, fried them up in olive oil, and ate them as a side dish. I should have recognized then that they weren’t inky caps, because inky caps exude a black substance when you fry them.

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