One of the favorite and very satisfying things to do in our forests has been picking mushrooms. My Grandma loved doing it. Mushrooms are mostly a fall thing, so if we were in the village (normally, the school year was well under way in September), we would accompany her on her "hunt." She always put on her tall, black rubber boots on and off we went.
She used to sing silly songs as we were walking, for example the one where we were brave soldiers who didn't fear anything. She used to change the ending into something silly and inappropriate for a grandma to say, but it always made us laugh.
When we brought the mushrooms home, they had to be cleaned up, sliced and dried. This was usually something only adults did - they had to check for worms, and stuff, and it was too much responsibility for us kids. Even when I was older and could easily do it, my Grandma wouldn't let me do it for too long and sent me to play or read magazines :). By the way, my other Grandma was the same - when I helped out on the field, barely had I started when she told me to take a break :). Sweet, hardworking women! Anyway, once the mushrooms were dried (it usually took several days), we stored them in glass jars with a couple of bay leaves to keep the bugs out. We only covered them lightly with some breathable piece of cloth so that they didn't get moldy.
These mushrooms are indispensable for making the sauerkraut soup for the Rusyn Christmas dinner. No other mushrooms can create this special taste. And when I am not at home, a bag of them always makes its way to wherever I am. Last year I used the very last batch prepared by my Grandma. As she passed away, it is now my dad who prepares them and my mom who sends them over.