We’re walking in the Gousty woods and meadows on a misty, moisty morning in May — when it occurs to me that there is no place I’d rather be.
My brother, the expert morel mushroomer, leads the way.
As soon as the cousins see Grandfather digging in the garden, they surround him with love and curiosity. He is a child magnet.
Asparagus! We planted it three years ago, and harvested our first handful of spears this week.
Jeffrey gets up early to go looking for breakfast in the woods behind our house. In the afternoon, our neighbor, Mike, takes the girls on a mushroom-hunting adventure on the edge of the orchard. At dusk in the Gousty forest, Jeffrey and I search for the illusive morel.
I used to be easily discouraged while looking for morels. Accustomed to walking fast and covering a lot of ground with a dog, the pace of mushroom hunting didn’t come easily to me. But then our children came along, and I learned how to slow down. Now I love to meander through the woods and field edges, pausing as little fingers point out flowers, bird’s nests, berries, and — during the month of May — morels.
These days, the girls usually find more mushrooms than I do. But I don’t get discouraged any more. I like to watch them find morels perhaps even more than I like finding them myself.
I also like to hear Jeffrey’s stories when he comes back from the hunt. One night after an evening walk, he tiptoed upstairs to show me his treasure, including the biggest morel ever. He’d found a particularly large group of morels growing under a grove of poplar trees close to where we’d walked just the night before. Did those enormous mushrooms appear overnight or were they silently standing there as we ambled past?
And then sometimes they appear when we aren’t searching at all. Yesterday, Ellen found a lone morel (nearly 5-inches tall!) down by the hammok while the girls were swinging. After we documented it for uncle Chris, the girls ran over to the neighbor’s house to show Mike — because sharing the delight of discovery is half the fun of finding morels!
Tomorrow, my brother Chris arrives with his family for the summer — and I’m guessing the first thing he’ll do is head back into the woods with a mesh bag in his pocket. I asked my Mom and Dad if they’ve been out looking for morels recently, but my Mom said no, “We’re saving them all for Chris.”