So, out here in the Midwest Springtime means a lot of things: Warmer weather. Longer days. Allergies (or is that one more just me?). And… mushroom season.
Morel Mushrooms are wild, and delicious, and native. Unlike their cousins that you find in supermarkets, they’re almost impossible to cultivate. If you have a taste for them, you have to search them out in the woods (or pay roughly $50 a pound for them…).
I’m a very casual mushroom hunter. I’m thrilled when I find them, but I kind of just use them as an excuse to disappear into the woods for an hour or two. There are other people who nearly make a religion out of the hunt, paying homage to the mushroom god Morel and telling tales of their encounters time and time again. The pilot lounge at the airport (where I work) has been abuzz with rumors of sightings for the last week. So I thought I’d check things out.
Jeremiah thinks I’m nuts…or that I’m going to poison myself. I keep telling him that no other mushroom can be mistaken for a morel, but I’m not sure he believes me.
I changed into long sleeves and threw on a hat. Jeremiah asked me if it was my mushroom hunting hat; I said that it’s my “I really hate ticks and don’t want them in my hair” hat. He seemed astonished.
“Ticks? In your hair?”
Apparently, with his flat-top haircut, this is unheard of. But I’m not crazy, right? Getting ticks in your hair is totally a thing.
I took off down our back road, wandering past the llama barn where the llamas paid me no mind.
In fact, no one paid me any mind…except my sweet old man, Cinco.
Cinco followed me along the fence line of the horse pasture, stopping in front of me to request some of the long grass that had grown up along the other side of the fence (where the grass really is greener…).
Then I popped out to look at the site of my future outdoor arena. I knew I wouldn’t find any mushrooms there, but I like to wander out and stare at it sometimes. And dream about the day when we can afford to haul in the materials to finish it.
And dream about all the time I will spend riding my ponies under the pines.
Isn’t it lovely?
Then, since all quests need a villain, and this mushroom quest is no different, I present to you POISON IVY!
No!!! The bane of my summers! Kill it! Kill it dead!
*Rages incoherently for a moment…*
“Oh, look! A pretty flower.”
I’m not sure what these are, but they kind of look like little stars. And they’re lovely. And they’re all over this time of year.
And of course, the wild violets are everywhere. A ground cover in places.
When I was little, I used to pick bouquets of wild violets for my mom and put them in a tiny vase with dandelions. The violets I used to pick were purple or lavender or white.
I didn’t even know they came in yellow until I was older.
The may apples are up as well, covering our trails.
But they aren’t blooming yet.
Then I walked under a fallen reminder that we need to clear the trail if we ever want to ride back here with horses
And I noticed a tree just beside that one that had been down so long it had almost taken care of itself. Ashes to ashes…to ummm…moss.
These little flowers are all over. They remind me of bleeding hearts, but instead of hearts, their tiny flowers look like butterflies.
Another tree across the trail, this one more recent. I had to climb through it. *Mumbles something about needing to clear trail*
More flowers! Bluebells!
Anybody notice what I hadn’t seen yet? If you’re thinking mushrooms, you’re right. I kind of think it’s still a little early. Or maybe I just missed them.
Here’s the thing about morels: they aren’t very big, and they’re roughly the same color as the forest floor.
Hey, look! A Jack-in-the-Pulpit .
Also, can we just take a moment to appreciate that this is in my backyard?
But alas, still no morels.
So back down the trail to our farm road. I’ll try again when the may apples bloom.
Wish me luck!
P.S. – My blogger friend over at The Wicked Chicken takes a weekly walk kind of like this one but with better photos. If you’re into nature photography, you should check her out.