I spent Saturday and Sunday in an old farmhouse in a tiny village nestled in a bend of the Nemunas river. I use the term “village” loosely — really, it’s a collection of farmsteads. The farmhouse has no indoor plumbing — just an outhouse and a bucket under a small shed roof for washing dishes and brushing teeth. It is heated by tiled wood stoves. And, of course, no mobile phone reception. It does have electricity and a gas stove, so we weren’t completely roughing it. It was great to get away for a couple of days from the stress of all the things I need to do before I leave Lithuania and all the things I’ll have to do when I get back to Seattle. There was nothing to do but relax and forget the outside world.
There was a steady rain when we arrived on Saturday afternoon, but that didn’t stop us from hiking through the woods to see the river. We put on rain slickers and rubber boots and off we went. In the evening, we visited an artist in a neighboring village. It turned out she had participating in the 1972 demonstrations so I ended up doing a spontaneous research interview (it seems that I can’t completely escape work). On Sunday morning we drank tea by a bonfire, then headed back into the woods to collect mushrooms.
I was very excited to finally go mushrooming, which is a very Lithuanian activity. We were looking for voveruška mushrooms (a type of chantrelle). They are difficult to find. You have to catch a glimpse of yellow gold under moss or leaves. This was made more challenging by the small golden leaves on the ground — and by the fact that there is a mushroom of a similar color that is poisonous. I was quite pleased that I was able to find quite a few and I came home with a basket of mushrooms. We then cooked up the mushrooms and enjoyed the fruits of our labor. It’s an easy dish — melt butter in a pan, pile the mushrooms in the pan, let them stew in their own juices until tender and pour over boiled potatoes. Yummy!