Searching for Morels

Mostly Birds 155The weather was finally warm enough for morel mushrooms! On Sunday evening, Jesse and I went hunting for these delicious, and increasingly valuable mushrooms. We drove the four-wheeler through the pasture to a place Jesse called the point. We parked it near a gate to yet another pasture. Jesse had no problem stepping over this gate, but being much shorter, I didn’t desire to try, instead I crawled underneath. Of course, Jesse affectionately teased me about it. We walked a few feet near a perpendicular fence until we came to a big red gate. Usually we climb over the red gates instead of opening them but this time Jesse opened it for us. This gate separated the pasture from the woods. We stayed on top of the hill, not venturing too far down or in the woods, we had both been sick and the idea of having to climb back up the very steep slope wasn’t very appealing to either of us.

Mostly Birds 159Only a few feet into the woods, Jesse’s ankle was stuck.  He thought it was a bramble so he kept tugging at it, but as he turned around to look he saw that is it was an old barbed wire. It had been here so long the woods enveloped it.  I was trying to choke back a laugh as Jesse lifted his foot out of it. Carefully, I followed behind him, being sure not to step in the loop the barbed wire was forming. Some places we had to stoop under low hanging branches and small trees, the whole time keeping an eye out for morels.

Mostly Birds 076We rounded part of the hill and were now headed a different direction, here the hill became even more steep. Through some brambles, stooping under low branches, around trees in the path, stepping over windfalls, we continued through the woods staying on a cleverly placed deer trail. Jesse marveled at the deer’s chosen course. Lots of oak leaves littered the ground, but we were unable to identify where the oak tree stood. We were amazed at the density and progress of the underbrush. The varying shades of green plants filled the woods with an emerald beauty. However, if there were morels the underbrush would make it nearly impossible to see. A few big pieces of limestone rock lying on the slope near the trail in a few places caught our attention briefly; both Jesse and I find large rocks like these fascinating. The layers in the rock were plainly visible, though nearly covered in a thick moss. There was a maple tree, bark so smooth, trunk incredibly straight, actually it had four trunks (or it was four maples growing in a perfect clump), we both found it impressive. Jesse touched its bark and stood near it looking straight up. Before this there was another tree along the path that I found beautiful, I can no longer remember what kind it was though. I stopped for a moment to hug the tree. I saw a bumblebee enjoying the woods as well.

Mostly Birds 157I scrutinized the ground along old, long dead stumps we passed and around the windfalls. Sadly, neither of us spotted any morels. Though disappointing, there was too much beauty to be discovered in the woods to have a lack of morels dampen our spirits. There were a few different kinds of violets dotting the green underbrush.  A few jack- in- the-pulpit plants were near the path. We also saw water leaf, wild geranium (also known as cowslip), rue anemone and a few others we weren’t able to identify. There may have also been Solomon seal and false Solomon seal too.

Random 132With no luck finding morels, we headed out of the woods. We choose a spot where there was another gate to the pasture. We crawled under this red gate one at a time. There were trees here, with saplings that were creeping into the pasture. These white trees were absolutely stunning, their new, green leaves shivered in the breeze. A week earlier, we had admired these trees from a distance.

Random 138We walked along in the pasture, hand in hand. While walking on a cow path, we marveled at all the worm tracks created a few days ago after a good rainfall. Several ant hills were scattered along the path, sand piled up on the edges. Jesse spoke of the elaborate tunnels the ants build underground, showing with his hands how big an area they can cover. There was a plant in bloom with tiny yellow flowers.  At first, Jesse thought it was wild parsnip, but the flower was different and it is too early in the season for parsnips to be blooming. I identified it later as winter cress.

Mostly Birds 080Before long, we were back at the four wheeler. There were a couple more places we wanted to check, we didn’t linger long at either spot. The last place we looked for morels was filled with jack- in- the-pulpits that were further along than the few we saw earlier. Although we didn’t find a single morel, it wasn’t time wasted, we saw lots of interesting things and shared in the wonder of the woods, delighting in nature.





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