Between a day of telephone calls, vet visits, administrative errands, and shopping, I got to take an hour to go a-mushrooming. This time I went just in front of my mil's house, looking for Marasmius oreades (aka "scotch bonnets" or fairy ring mushrooms/caps). The public lawn is divided in two by a dense line of hazelnuts and butterfly bushes. On one side, I saw a lady busy gathering mushrooms. I almost turned around and went back on the other side. Then I thought, no, I really want to see what she is gathering. So, even knowing that some people are very possessive of their knowledge, I approached her with a smile and asked to see what she had found. She looked a bit distrustful and bothered, but she opened her sack and showed me her caps.
I then showed her mine and asked where she was from. She was wearing a headscarf, which is not typical for French natives, and I could hear she had an accent even though she didn't say much. Again she seemed a bit bothered and said she lived in a house up the hill. I didn't want to push her, but I asked what country she was from. Turkey, she told me, and I told her I was American. Right away she relaxed, understanding that I was another "foreigner."*
I wished her a nice day then went back on the other side to let her gather in peace. A few minutes later, she came over where I was, and we started chatting about France and its language, about mushrooms, about traveling, about family. We gathered mushrooms side by side, each pointing out patches to one another, urging the other to gather them, neither person trying to be greedy or proprietorial.
She asked me to walk into the adjacent pasture with her because she was afraid of the cows. She showed me another kind of edible mushroom I didn't know. I told her about lemon balm and where she could gather some. It was exactly the type of chance encounter that puts joy into my day.
Her name is Emine. Upon her invitation, I'll go have coffee with her before we live for Egypt. I think I'll take her brownies and a bundle of lemon balm. :)
* Not that it matters, but the mushroom thief was Portuguese.