Get your morels before they’re gone

I get a little antsy this time of year as I’m seeing photos on social media of successful morel mushroom hunters when I have yet to get out and look for them.

Even though most of the shots being posted are from fungi fans who are searching well south of where I live, I still get that anxious feeling a kid on an Easter egg hunt gets when he hears his friends hollering “I found one!” while he has yet to throw anything in his basket. You feel as if by the time you get out there, all the mushrooms – or Easter eggs – will be gone.

I won’t feel completely relieved until I’ve picked that first morel. Thankfully, that time is near. A friend who organizes an annual “mushroom camp” around Mother’s Day weekend called the other day to let me and others know of this year’s plans. It will be a shortened version of camp this year, with fewer participants, but working as a group, we usually find enough morels to eat while we’re in camp and bring a few home, too.

Mother’s Day weekend in northern Michigan is usually a great time to be outside doing anything – hunting for morels or turkeys, fishing, camping, paddling – but we’ve seen crazy swings in the weather this spring. Some years the heat brings the mosquitoes and blackflies out in force, while other years we’ve picked ‘shrooms in lake-effect snow showers. You just never know.

I’ve never been fond of bugs, so it doesn’t bother me when the weather is on the cool side, but it was a new experience for us last year when the first few mushrooms we found were frozen. No matter – they thawed in plenty of time to be eaten in soup and on steak and pizza back at camp.

Good luck if you get out. If you’re the guy who didn’t find as many Easter eggs as the others when you were a kid, bring along a friend to help.

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