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The Wonderful Morel Mushrooms

posted Jun 12, 2013, 12:01 PM by Unknown user
by Sherry Perkins

Some of our best times as a family  were spent hunting morel mushrooms in the Loess Hills of Fremont County, Iowa. Every mushroom hunter has a special story to tell and we were no exception. Thanks to an aunt and uncle, we always had plenty of hilly ground, timber and fence rows to walk through in search of the elusive and mighty mushrooms. They often accompanied us on our outings, showing us the best places to hunt. They enjoyed the sport more than any of us and I really believe Uncle could smell a mushroom a mile away.

Our day would start early by making sandwiches and thermoses of coffee. We’d throw in some Twinkies, a few cookies and apples and we were ready to go. We would leave the car at the road and walk a mile or more into the hills. Spring would be bursting with flowers --violets, Dutchman's Britches, and Jack-in-the-Pulpit, grass so green, and nettles and poison ivy. The hills were straight up and down depending on your path, so one needed a strong walking stick to help you on your way. Maneuvering the gullies and ravines was tricky sometimes, especially after a spring rain. Then your shoes carried heavy mud and each step was torture. You could walk great distances and never find one mushroom. Other times we could find them everywhere we turned.

We never found the giant mushroom like some search for, but some years we found sacks and sacks of them. One particular Sunday outing, we had several young children (nieces and cousins) along for the hunt. We walked and walked but found few mushrooms. The kids and I decided to walk back to the car a different way.  Little, short legs can't walk very long at one stretch, so we opted to rest a spell in a grassy meadow  and have a drink. One of them found a mushroom so everybody rushed to that spot of course. Then another mushroom was discovered and another!  We soon realized we were sitting and stepping on them! The little gray sponges were everywhere around us! We filled every sack and container we had and when the adults caught up with us, they filled their sacks and the shirts off their backs. What fun it was to find so many. What a memory we took home that day.

Of course not all hunts were easy. We had to contend with long, black snakes, chiggers, nettles, poison ivy, spiders, sprained ankles, scratches from blackberry patches, bee stings, fences to cross over or under and maybe an angry bull. But they never deterred us from going again.

The morel is very tasty when rolled in flour and fried in butter. ( After cleaning of course) However, the greatest treasures we found on those adventures were the “ties that bind,” the laughter, the stories told, the helping and rescuing each other, the quiet of the timber, the picnics with Mother Nature bound us together forever.  For us the mushrooms are long gone that tasted so wonderful, but the food we gathered for our souls continues to sustain us even after all these years.

The kids are all grown and gone from home. Aunt and Uncle are picking mushrooms in Heavenly timber. We can no longer climb the ravines and ditches, but when April and May roll around every year, we remember .