Hear that? It's the sound of Bay Area mushroom-hunters praying for downpours. You see, the combination of our temperate Mediterranean climate and our cloudbursts produces some fine fungal specimens. Porcini, morels, even the brilliant red Amanita muscaria (well known to psychedelic drug fanciers) are out there waiting to be plucked, though many locals don't take advantage of the bounty. "Oh, San Francisco's a great place to look for mushrooms," says Debbie Viess, education chairperson for the Mycological Society of San Francisco. "When there's nothing growing in the East Bay, we go to S.F. and hunt on the road medians!"Viess shares what she knows about edible and toxic regional 'shroom varieties in a talk starting at 7 p.m. at the Richmond Branch Library, 351 Ninth Ave. (at Clement), S.F. Admission is free; call 666-7165 or visit www.sfpl.org.
-- Joyce Slaton
Walk This Way
Those who love San Francisco usually concentrate on the joys of the city itself (the Victorians! the views! the trannies!). But one of the best things about this town is the ease with which you can escape the urban grind: Verdant forests, coastal cliffs, and wildflower-strewn mountains are just a brief drive away. Trail-master Linda Hamiltondiscusses her favorite wild landscapes with slides and information culled from her forthcoming book, Hiking the San Francisco Bay Area, starting at 7 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo (at Gilman), Berkeley. Admission is free; call (510) 527-4140 or visit www.rei.com.
-- Joyce Slaton
Aid for Mother Earth
We live in troubled environmental times. Clouds of carbon monoxide from our cars and methane from our herds of cows are turning up the global heat. Worldwide, sources of drinking water are getting steadily more polluted. What can you do about it? Find out at the Green Festival, a two-day celebration featuring Earth-preserving speakers, demonstrations, and exhibits from practicing liberals. The speakers' list includes Jim Hightower, Alice Walker, and Arianna Huffington -- people who put their money and their muscle where their mouths are, to say the least. Other draws include an organic fashion show, numerous lectures on sustainability, and information about biodiesel. The festival begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday (and 11 a.m. on Sunday) at the San Francisco Concourse, 635 Eighth St. (at Brannan), S.F. Admission is $15; visit www.greenfestivals.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser