Looking for morels

I have been out hunting – unsuccessfully – for morel mushrooms.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t there. With the mostly warm sunny weather we have been having mixed with rainy days, they are popping up already, but unfortunately I just can’t see them.

Luckily I have a spotter. As soon as Jack points them out to me, I can see them and wonder how I could have missed them. Usually we find them during the first week of May.

So last Saturday, although it is a bit early this year, we went out looking and came back with enough for a meal. We don’t have to go very far to look for them. Almost every year we can pick enough for a couple of meals right here in the yard.

Or, rather for everyone but me. After years of enjoying them in the spring, I have to be careful because sometimes they upset my stomach. I still love looking for them though and am usually safe with a taste once or twice in the spring.

They are the only kind of mushrooms I can feel safe about picking.

We always used to go out looking for them when I was a kid, usually in the woods in back of our house. Even then I didn’t find many, but Mom could sure spot them.

Mushroom hunting was another good excuse to go exploring too, not that I ever needed one.

I didn’t find any morels around the yard Saturday, but Jack found about 15 and added another five to the batch on Sunday.

Dipped in egg and flour and fried and YUM.

While we were out looking for those elusive fungi, I did spot lots loads of wild violets, dandelion blooms and plenty of little lilies of the valley about to bloom along the river bank. Those lilies are some of the first flowers each spring here on the Tobacco. And one that I know the name of too. That isn’t often the case.

I love all kinds of plants and flowers, but I usually have to ask someone what their names are and I have a notorious “black thumb.” I can kill almost anything given enough time. Still I try to be a real gardener every year and always plant something new. Then when it comes up and blooms, if it does, I can wonder what it is!

I always think I will remember what I planted. I even leave the little stickers in so I can tell what they are. Eventually the sticker gets lost, and then so am I. After that I tend to make up my own names for things like those “fuzzy white clusters” or “river flowers” or “some kind of daisy”. I can recognize a few, like roses or weeds like Queen Ann Lace (although I tend to confuse it with the common carrot bloom), Honeysuckle and Black-Eyed Susans.

The next thing to bloom in this yard may be lilacs or could be the flowering crab trees. As I told you last week, they are all getting ready to do something. I noticed a few flowers on the flowering crab and loads of almost open flower buds on the other bushes.

I have three flowering crab trees in the front yard, one dark red, one pink and one white. Almost every year they are loaded with blooms. Not only are they beautiful, apple blossoms smell heavenly when they are all in bloom. This yard smells pretty good in the spring, especially when the r lilac bushes bloom. That’s another fragrant beautiful blossom in the spring. I have four of those and so far, haven’t killed any – yet.  In fact a couple of years ago we tried to get rid of a particularly bushy one by the front corner of the house. We cut it and dug up as much as we could.

Guess what? It’s back and last spring it started blooming again.

If all else fails, there’s always one spring flower I am a real expert at growing – dandelions! We usually have a bumper crop of those every spring and already they are popping up all over.

One year they were so thick, you couldn’t see the grass between those gaudy yellow blooms. I have a picture of that carpet of yellow framed in my home office. In fact there are two pictures, one with my Mom and our old cocker Charlie in the distance and in front of them a carpet of yellow.

Dandelions may be a nuisance but that picture is a treasure.

And, after all they’re flowers too.