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Hello, little friend!

It’s not often that Jack and I get to whisk away to the forest for a hiking date (come to think of it… I don’t know that we’ve EVER gone without at least a couple of kids), but with extra family in town to watch the solar eclipse, we saw an opportunity and we took it. Not only was the weather absolutely sublime, it also happened to be morel season. After getting the kids all settled into a lazy Saturday routine, while reminding them we’d still have to do our weekend chores once we returned, we set off in hunt of morels in the morning.

Since moving to Indiana, we’ve caught the mushroom hunting bug. Whether it’s morels, chicken of the woods, chanterelles, or puffballs, we aren’t terribly picky about what we’ll forage for. Jack is definitely the expert on identifying them, and I have been amazed time and time again how many edible fungi are out there. Not only have I learned that I LIKE (some) mushrooms, the time spent wandering around in the woods has become one of my absolute favorite pastimes. I can FEEL in my bones how much weight lifts off of me when I’m surrounded by nothing but trees and nature and my favorite people. The kids don’t always feel the same way, so when the chance came to go one-on-one with Jack, the one person I know wouldn’t gripe about the mud, the chill, the distance, the steepness, or any other possible obstacle, I was a bit of a dream come true.

My favorite hiking buddy at Yellowwood, along the Tecumsah trail.

We drove to our favorite morel spot (which basically means the only place we’ve reliably found at least a handful of morels) and booked it up the hill to our destination. The trail was unusually active, probably because of the beautiful weather, but also because there were other mushroom hunters combing the area. That’s part of the thrill and frustration of mushroom hunting–there’s no guarantee that there will be a mushroom there AND there’s no guarantee someone else hasn’t already snatched it if it ever was there in the first place. So imagine our delight when we made it to the top of the ridge and there was a morel rearing its shriveled gray head out of the leaf cover, not two feet off the trail.

I *wish* we’d found these–another family member found this haul elsewhere in the Midwest!

We took a picture, then snatched that bad boy up. Even though there’s no expectation of finding any morels, which can be notoriously fickle, it was SO satisfying to find one right off the bat. We searched the area, and without any more, we began wandering farther off trail. Here, I will give Jack full credit for finding most of the morels we’ve ever discovered. Where my vision is overstimulated by leaf litter on the forest floor, morels tend to pop out with his vision. For whatever reason, he’s just better at it than me, and I am not particularly bothered by that. So, when I teasingly said I didn’t think I’d ever been the one to find a morel, then spotted one not two seconds later, right in front of my face, we both had a good laugh about it.

In a twist of irony, Jack found more morels at church than we did on our hike.

We spent another hour, quietly treading through the forest, with a total of three morels in our mushroom bag. Not a haul, but nothing to complain about, either Finding our way back to the trail we’d departed from, we noticed a fella who was booking it from one place to another. Swinging at his side was a purple sack that was stuffed with–you guessed it–morels. Obviously, the guy knew the spots to look. Most of mushroom hunting is having the opportunity to go year after year and become familiarized with where they’ve been found before. Naturally, that also means mushroom hunters aren’t very keen on sharing their favorite locations with anyone. So, the dude kept rushing around, never once looking in our direction. It’d be like two lions meeting while both looking for a zebra to eat. All cooperation is out the window when the hunt is on. We didn’t bother to stop him in his quest, though I am not above having noticed WHERE he stopped and to bend over. Since we’re looking in a public state park, there’s nothing with that guy’s name on it, and I will definitely poke around those spots next time. 😉 And, funny enough, right near where we’d found the first morel, we found another one. Sneaky little fungus.

My brother and his family’s haul put ours to shame, haha.

We would have loved to stay out longer, but we had some previous commitments with General Conference, and we needed cell service to stream, so we headed back home after only a few hours. While driving, I remembered a single morel Claire had found under one of the church pine trees a few years back, and casually mentioned to Jack that he should look for the patch the next time he was there (which, obviously, he was already planning to do… mushrooms are often on his mind). He did, and you know what? Seven pert little morels were poking up out of the sandy soil. For all our walking and staring at the forest, we could have parked at church and spotted morels from our windows. Wild mushrooms will probably keep surprising me, and that’s one of the things I love about them.


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True stories of raising children, remodeling, braving the elements and plotting out life, all while living on a humble acreage in central Indiana.

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