Gary Lincoff said something interesting to me 8 years ago.
We were sitting at a picnic table during a mushroom foray in Pennsylvania. He just finished giving a presentation on edible mushrooms and agreed to sit down for an interview.
My plan was to ask him several questions about his life as a mycologist. The interview turned into a monologue instead. I asked Gary two questions and he spoke for 30 minutes. I didn’t mind. Almost everything he said was quote-worthy.
One statement in particular really caught my attention.
“Just to name mushrooms… after a while it gets boring.”
This surprised me. Gary was the author of one of the greatest mushroom field guides of all time. He must’ve thought that mushroom identification deserved at least some recognition. He led mushroom identification walks. He taught mushroom identification classes. He had a name for almost every mushroom he saw.
Yet there he was, admitting to me that names become boring after a while.
Before I could ask Gary to elaborate on his statement, he was already talking about the connections between plants and mushrooms, how he liked finding things that puzzled him, and how he really wanted to know the roles of organisms in the forest.
Collecting names, I realized, wasn’t Gary’s goal. It wasn’t mine either, and as I listened to his picnic table sermon, I was oddly reassured. Gary preached ecological literacy. His words were confirmation that humans are capable of connecting with nature in more fulfilling ways.
In the following video, I show you all the amazing things a single mushroom can teach you when ecological literacy is your goal.