Oh the joy of morel mushroom hunting in the Spring.
| Around mid March to early April, after the daffodils peep through the soil and the daytime sun warms the woodland floor. There are patches of mayapples standing tall, looking like toadstools from afar. With a crispness still in the morning air, here we go full of anticipation with walking sticks and potato sacks in hand.
Where will they be hiding this year? We follow last years footsteps and look beneath the oldest trees. We walk slowly and strain our eyes to focus, we sure don't want to miss one and pass it by. We tease one another if we happen to find one that the other just passed by and almost stepped on.
The first one found is such a thrill. We tell ourselves if there is one there has to be more. We freeze in that spot and slowly look around, crouching low so we can see them poking out above the woodland floor through the leaves. Most of the time there will be another and another and then the fun begins. Carefully we pluck them from among the leaves and twigs and with joy place these little treasures in our sacks. The earthy smell of the wild mushrooms adds a spark of excitement to the hunt, like a coon hound sniffs the ground for the scent of the coon, we smell the anticipation of finding that big patch of morel mushrooms.
Morel Mushroom hunting in the Spring is one of our favorite family rituals. The time we spend together in the woods is filled with special moments and memories. Every year is different. Sometimes we find them in abundance and sometimes just a few. That is part of the thrill of morel hunting, you can never predict how many there will be.
As we sit by the warm fire in February and talk of the coming Spring. We look through the seed catalogs and decide what we will we plant in our garden this year. Along with our garden planning we always try and guess how many more weeks until the first morels will be up.
I will always remember the Spring that my mother in law and I found so many morels. We would go hunting everyday and find more and more. We literally filled dish pans with our bounty. We would laugh as we counted them not believing our own eyes. We found morels by the hundreds that year and shared so much joy and laughter. Of all my special memories that is one of my favorite.
Another special memory I will always treasure is the year that I lost my dear friend Sheila to cancer. Her two little girls, grown women now, spent a lot of time with me that Spring. We planted a flower garden together in memory of their Mother. We gathered wildflowers and dried them and I took them morel hunting in the woods near their log home. I knew it was going to be a good day for morel hunting when just a couple of steps into the woods we found our first few morels. This was their first look at a morel mushroom. Then the oldest girl squealed with excitement "I found one". As we continued to find more the girls both declared "this is better than hunting Easter eggs"! We had a wonderful time that Spring and created memories I will always treasure and hope they will too.
All three of our children have enjoyed this ritual of morel hunting every Spring. They have known the thrill of finding them and the sheer joy of eating them fried up all golden brown. One year our little one just could not wait until we got home to taste her treasure. She ate one right there in the woods dirt and all.
There is a deep feeling of contentment when I am in the woods on those first warm days of Spring. The sights, sounds and smells fill me with joy and sweet memories. And sharing this special family ritual is part of the joy of each coming Spring. Of all the beautiful signs of Spring I would say right up there with the daffodils are the first morels to poke through the woodland floor. The daffodils and morels let us know that Winter is behind and it is time to once again enjoy our ritual of Spring.