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The Perfect Storm with a Side of Morel Mushrooms
In my 30's I loved to fish, baking my brains in the hot sun in a boat on a lake while playing guess and by golly with striped and bugle mouth bass. It's a thrill of the hunt sort of exercise. Most of my catches I'd apologize for the trouble and throw them back into the drink. I also enjoyed hide and seek and Easter egg hunts as a child.
The Elusive Morel
Then I discovered the fun of hunting for Morel mushrooms.
Mushrooms in general grow in miserable humid forest conditions which means a hunter must be prepared to:
- Forge paths through poison oak, poison ivy
- Slog through mud puddles
- Fend off ticks, spiders, mosquitoes, creepy crawlers....
...all while guessing where the Morels live.
What about that is not to like?
For some people hunting for morels is an art form. A serious study of the lay of the land sort of research.
I don't care for the taste of Morels, but my Grandma loved them. She liked to fry them up and have them along with sliced radishes on buttered bread. Her favorites
The Hunt Begins
One spring morning I took my four year old nephew, Devin, on a quest to a nearby woods to search for Grandma's Morels. He was a precocious, gung-ho ball of energy, up for anything high energy, high speed, a big voice and lots of noise.
We decked out in the proper clothes for a day in the woods.
- mud-stomping boots
- long pants
- long sleeve shirts
- bug spray
- two bags each to hold our finds
Goalpost Set at 15
The goal was to find at least 15 Morels total.
Morels are the only mushroom easy to identify. They look like brownish colored brains of evil outer space alien invaders that just randomly pop out of the ground.
Arrive at the entrance of Walnut woods bright and early,
A nice little wooded park at the edge of city limits. (about a mile away)
It rained the night before. Everything was wet, water droplets glistening in sunshine on leaves, trees grass, the forest seem to glow magically. And we're looking for mushrooms...
As we walked along the path, well, I walked, Devin kept pace but in a wavy, more serpentiny manner, winding side to side ducking behind bushes and fauna to check the underbrush for the hidden treasures.
In a short time he shouted "I found one!" then a few seconds later "I found another one!" he was feeling pretty stoked about the prospect of more.
A Beautiful Little Tree
Then, I noticed a tree at the edge of the path just up ahead, a beautiful little tree. It wasn't a big tree, Trunk was small, 2 - 4", a large sapling with a canopy of branches arching well over the pathway.
I stood under tree and pondered. It was The Perfect Storm
A perfect storm is:
- a disastrous situation which comes about through a concurrence of powerful factors
The Perfect Storm
The leaves hung heavy with rain water. And I pondered. (Hey, it was done to me...)
"Oh Devin!" (I called,) "Come here, I want to show you something"
And there he was. Bounce, bounce, hip hop over the foliage toward the path.
He landed with a jump right where I wanted him to land
Right below the canopy.
His eyes wide with excitement, such innocence “What is it Aunt Pat?” he asked impatiently.
I smiled and raised my hand to make a fist toward the trees trunk.
Now, I ask... Have you ever had a DOH moment? When your brain says DOH split seconds before it escapes your mouth?
"This, is what” I said as I hit the tree trunk with a hard, sharp smack. Then quickly took one giant step back
Buckets of rain water coursed down from the leaves and showered the boy head to toe with a voluminous splat.
The goal of this quest was to collect 15 mushrooms for doddering grandma and so far we had 2 between us, but now the kid is soaked and I am laughing too hard to see the devil in his eye
A New Purpose is Born
The hunter becomes the hunted and new purpose is born
no turning back now
From then it was find mushrooms at your peril
Through ambushes, carefully laid traps, subterfuge, point counter point.
I'd reach down for a morel and splash! Every time, he was supercharged
Somehow in all the mayhem the magic number 15 arrived
By that time we both resembled walking sponges
Nothing was dry...nothing
our boots squished with water at every step
Got into the car, sopping wet and drove home sopping wet.
Grandma got her 15 morels – I got to act like a 5 year old again. A good day.
Long Wet Ride Home