Sunday morning, 9 am. I'm standing in a light drizzle on the corner of 2nd and Seneca, waiting for Shani to come pick me up and take the two of us to Tiger Mountain on an adventurous chanterelle hunting expedition. Little do I know of the dramatic events that will transpire in just a couple of hours; an unexpected emergency that will force us to abort our mission and remind us of the importance of a well-stocked first aid kit.
Well, something like that.
What happened was this: after hiking up the steep mountainside through vicious blackberry bushes and other seriously unfriendly vegetation we finally reached Shani's secret spot in the forest. I'm not at all knowledgeable when it comes to mushrooms, and as this was my first official mushroom expedition my biggest concern was being able to spot the golden prey. That turned out to be a non-issue; the place was packed with chanterelles and no one had been there before us. Great! We started picking immediately and trailed off a bit from each other, Shani consistently making sure that I was within hearing range when she called my name.
I had just found a nice spot with plenty of goodies when I suddenly experienced a very distinct pain in my left leg. I cursed and looked down, seeing a wasp sitting there. It hurt like crazy, and I tried to smack it. However, as I attempted to do so another wasp attacked my other leg, the first one seeing an opportunity to sting me again. I found myself surrounded by a whole crew of pissed off yellow jackets, taking shots at me both here and there. I yelled and ran towards Shani, dignifiedly waiving my arms as I went. When I reached her I hurt all over; being stung several times on each leg and a couple of times in the face. She asked me if I was allergic, but I didn't think I was and ensured her that I could keep going.
We split up once more, and I felt okay; at least for five minutes or so... Then I suddenly got a sensation that felt just as if someone had stuffed my ears full of cotton. My face and lips started tingling and my eyes began to water. I kept telling myself that I would be just fine - I'm not allergic! - but when my tongue and throat started swelling up I realized that being alone in the middle of nowhere might not be the best idea if I suddenly learned that I was in fact allergic. I called for Shani, who heard that my voice was all funny from the swollen throat and I was having serious problems talking because of my newly developed Angelina Jolie-lips.
At this point we decided to abort the mission and started heading back towards the car. On the way down we both managed to hilariously slip and fall; first me sliding on my back for a couple of meters and then her completely falling over, head-down-feet-up in a hidden trench. Somehow we successfully kept the precious chanterelles in the baskets through all this hubbub, and when we finally got back to the car we were wet and dirty, but mostly laughing at our own misery. We picked up some antihistamine in Snoqualmie for me, and about half an hour later I was able to talk normally again (almost, at least) and my hearing returned.
The rest of the day was spent on Scott and Shani's couch, playing with Cian, watching football, drinking tea, and eating nachos. Not too bad, really. Shani even cooked some wonderful butternut squash chanterelle soup that I got to take home; so kind of her! Or perhaps it was just a very clever way of making sure that I will not be deterred from joining her on similar expeditions in the future... (Which I'm not! I promise.)
Some pre-wasp attack photos; notice the steepness of the hill I'm standing in. I had no idea mushroom picking was that challenging!
My golden treasure, which would have been way more impressive had those stupid insects not been so protective of their territory...
My body still hurts where the wasps stung me, my swollen left eye making
me look like I was a major player in an Irish pub brawl, but I'll certainly live. I tried to document the swollen post-wasp face, but the pictures were not adequately conveying the reddish puffyness, so you'll just have to trust me when I say that I look like crap.
Guess it's time to pop another couple of pink pills and hope that I will look more like myself when I wake up tomorrow. If not, I'll have a fun day at work explaining my beat up features...