Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Wild Morel Hunters

It's been a brilliant morel season on our farm. I went out about 10 days ago determined to find morels after about eight years of missing them during their brief springtime appearance. I walked for three hours along the sides of our two valleys seeing not a single sign of this highly prized mushroom.

I was in a sort of Zenlike trance, listening to the burble of the stream below, the sweet notes of newly arrived woodland warblers, revisiting parts of the farm I've not seen in months or even years. No morels? No worries. It would not spoil a nice walk in the spring woods.

Then it hit me: old orchards—morels often grow really well in old orchards. We'd had the requisite rainfall followed by warm days. I changed course toward the ancient apple orchard along the east-west ridge west of our house.

There, beneath the skeleton of a dead Golden Delicious apple tree I found a huge, slightly old morel. Then another. I ran to gather up Julie and the kids to share my discovery. We feasted on morels and homegrown asparagus that night.

The next day I took Liam out with me to look for more 'shrooms. As I suspected, he was an excellent morel hunter. Once we found a single morel, he could easily find the others that so often grow nearby. He was WAY into it. A pound of morels later we headed back to the house, like the happy, lucky hunters that we were. I was so pleased to be in the woods with my sweet son.

Here are some images of our successful hunt.
Liam's hand curling around his first-ever morel—one he found all on his own.

If there were a morel catalog, Liam could be its cover model.

His sense of smell is his most highly developed sense. Liam smells everything.

And sometimes the smelling goes too far. Liam always makes us laugh. Yes we wash the morels before cooking and eating..

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