Clare County Review & Marion Press Columns

Pat’s Bits & Pieces: Mushroom mania

Charlevoix, morel

We’re not dedicated mushroom hunters.
I have never really understood the compulsion to go mushroom hunting, the mushroom festivals and the unlimited wandering around the woods looking for them.
In the first place I always have a hard time just spotting them. Jack and I go out looking and he sees a mushroom right where I just looked. This happens darn near every time. Sometimes he spots one and has to walk up and touch the silly thing before I can even see it!
We used to find morels right here in our own yard every spring, mostly a few here and there, but enough to have them with dinner at least a couple of times. And, like I said, Jack always found most of them.
I learned all about morels when I was just a kid. I used to go hunting with our neighbor Alma in the woods in back of home. It was fun looking and when we found some, which we (she) usually did, Mom knew how to cook those delicacies perfectly.
Those days are gone unfortunately.
Our little place – on one acre – is about one-third cattails and there’s no sign of those delicacies anywhere around here.
Other people, however are out there and finding them all over the area. I just wish we could buy some somewhere…
Our hunting around the old place always started out the same. Beginning a few days before Mother’s Day we (that means Jack) would start finding one here and there, sometimes three or so. Always in different spots in the yard. I even found three once – by myself! After a week or so, we would collect twelve or sometimes a few more, and of course I fixed them up and we enjoyed them.
Once he even found the grand-daddy of them all, after we thought the harvest was over. Jack brought back four that time, and one that was four and a half inches tall and three inches across. That is the biggest one we ever found around the place on the Tobacco.
That turned out to be a bumper year. After Jack found that huge one, I couldn’t stand it, I had to go out and look for some too. I checked where Jack said he found them – nothing there, then wandered over towards the river on the western edge of the property. There was a tree there that just died, always a good place to look – and suddenly I spotted a couple, then a few more. There they were – too many to carry in my hands. I kept picking – nice big ones too – and piling them up until I had collected 21 of the largest I had ever seen on our property. A second look a few hours later netted me a couple more and when Jack and I looked again on the following Monday, and we found another five (I found three of them).
We had steak and fried morels for lunch and we still had lots left over – so Jack delivered a few to his buddy Kenny, who loves those things, and took the rest and some leftover steak to work for his supper.
You know what? Finding them started something. I discovered that I really enjoyed looking and I really miss those days now.
Maybe if we get up north Memorial weekend, I will wander around in the woods a bit…

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