It was a bit foggy when I awoke today, but there were no clouds and soon the sun was beaming down. Yahoo! First up on the agenda was to bid Paul and Carolyn Cardile adios. They were RV volunteers here for two and a half weeks. It was their first venture into volunteering for the Fish and Wildlife Service. It turned out I knew Paul from my time at Laguna Atascosa NWR back in 2008. At the time, he was the new Visitors Center manager there, and he’s been doing it ever since. Small world, as they say.
After fixing a hearty brunch, I was ready to get outdoors and enjoy my day off. Tom, one of the brown shirts, hopped off his big tractor type thing to talk to me. He had heard I was looking to find some morel mushrooms (thanks to the refuge grapevine). Actually, I’ve been looking to find some morel mushrooms for years. I’ve just never been able to find any. It’s been on my bucket list of things I’ve wanted to do. Unlike most morel mushroom people, he was actually willing to give me some pointers.
People who hunt morel mushrooms don’t like to give away any of their secrets or favorite places to go. Tom, on the other hand, told me to look in quaking aspen groves, and even told me where on the refuge I might find some. I like Tom. He’s also the guy that makes wonderful maple syrup each year on his homestead. I’m going to have to buy some of this year’s run from him.
After teaching the tree identification class to the school kids last week, I certainly knew how to identify quaking aspens. Notice the lovely blue sky. I was off to the woods.
I tromped around for a couple of hours, and all I found was another sleeping porcupine. It was the right kind of tree, though.
I guess my scrounging around woke him up. Sorry.
I did finally find some mushrooms, but they just didn’t look right to me. I remember talking to a woman last year that had a whole bag of these kinds of mushrooms that she said she fried up for a breakfast with eggs. I could have picked a couple of dozen of these, but I didn’t. I’ll have to Google them later to find out if they’re edible. After all, I don’t know if that woman lived to pick more shrooms.
Along the way, I also saw a ruffed grouse, a broad-winged hawk, and these little interesting pot like growths. I have no idea what they are, and don’t even know where to look to begin to identify them. They weren’t just lying on the forest floor, they had grown there and were attached to the ground.
After about three and a half hours of bushwhacking through the forest, without a bushwhacker, I was about to pack it in. Then, as I stepped over a downed log, I almost fainted…
|Hidden amongst the leaves were two morel mushrooms! I shouted out in joy, “FINALLY!”|
I knew instantly that I had found the treasure I’ve been seeking for many years. Check that one off my bucket list! I was one happy camper, and did a little dance in the forest.
Aren’t they beauties?
I’m thinking that shrooming is something like birding. Once you find a few, you’re hooked. I ended up spending over five hours searching up and down the hillsides for more morels. I only found two more, but the call to find a ‘mother load’ is strong.
I stopped at a couple of more locations, and have to admit that I panicked a little at one of them when I felt totally lost in the woods. I had no idea which way the car was. I eventually found my way out, but learned a lesson. Since my sense of directions isn’t the best, I’d better only hike up hill with the car below me.
On the drive back to home there was, what I thought, the perfect ending to the day. A majestic bald eagle perched in a dead tree. Little did I know that as I sat outside with Emma, a red fox would come waltzing (or maybe fox-trotting) along the gravel road in front of my site with something in it’s mouth. My guess is she had snatched up one of the young ground hogs to take home to her kits. Sorry to say, my camera was inside the rig.
Anyway, this was one diamond of a day. I found my first ever morel mushrooms, and even though I only found four, I’d wager that they’ll be the sweetest mushrooms I’ve ever tasted!
The tick count for today after wandering around in the woods for over five hours?? Six dog (wood) ticks, and four deer ticks removed. Diamonds don’t come for nothing you know.
Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later, Judy