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I have a Canadian friend, Nedd Kenney, a brilliant scholar, musician and fieldworker who now lives on Baffin Island off the northeast coast of Canada. It was Nedd who got me my first bhodran (Irish drum), and came to my house in Kurohime, in the Nagano Prefecture hills, to give me some tips on playing it. (In my case, with a lot of enthusiastic noise and gusto making up for a lack of talent.)

Nedd related a story about the gathering of mushrooms called morel (genus Morchella). Morels can sometimes grow as big as a pineapple, or they can be as small as the end of your thumb. They are shaped like a like a cross between a dwarf’s hat and a thimble, with a hollow, meshed, pitted cap intergrown with a stalk. They are prized delicacies in Europe and among the best-known wild mushrooms in North America. Their price on the market is second only to truffles.

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