Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Meeting Author Gary Lincoff

Meeting Author Gary Lincoff

Ever since I bought Gary Lincoff’s NATIONAL AUDUBON SOCIETY FIELD GUIDE TO MUSHROOMS, I’ve been looking for an opportunity to meet him. I finally got my chance.

Book-signings are proof that it’s a thrill to have a signed copy of an author’s work. In my case, several of my field guides are signed – yes I use them and get a thrill every time I see the author’s note.

Lincoff was the guest speaker at a recent Bedford (NY) Audubon Society meeting. This active group invites a wide range of naturalist experts to speak. The room was packed.

I was introduced to him by one of my mentors. As I handed him my field guide, I thought, “This is even better than going to a book signing. I got to chat with him, too.” He wrote a note and a drawing along with his signature in two places. I’m still on cloud nine.

Some readers may not find a field guide as exciting as a novel. It’s one thing to be knowledgeable. It’s another to be a talented speaker. Lincoff has the timing of a stand-up comic and the skill of a lead-singer. He knows his mushrooms so well that he can weave basic ID information, like where it grows, spore print color, and season into personal anecdotes, plays on words and recipes.

He has traveled the world. I nearly rolled off my chair as he described his trek to Kilimanjaro. “Why bother going to the summit? No mushrooms grow above the tree line.”

Anyone who can remain passionate and joyous during a 30-year study of fungi - or any aspect of nature - has my deepest respect. Lincoff blows me away, because he makes it look so simple.

JJ Murphy is a nature writer, blogging hiker, curriculum creator, locavore and tree-hugger currently based in Harriman, NY. Visit for more information on JJ's writing services and her favorite places for gear and supplies.

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