The Elusive Morel – A Father Daughter Hunting Trip

…we arrived for the weekend stay late Friday evening to a charming little condo on the 18th fairway at Crystal Mountain Resort. Dinner at the Kinlochen Thistle Pub that evening whet our appetite for the famous fungi with a dish of morels (fresh from the area I presume), sauteed in butter and garlic. The rest of the food here was very good as well, especially our beloved Benzie River Salad… radicchio, dried cherries, blue cheese, pine nuts and a cherry vinaigrette dressing – such a treat.

Come a bright sunny morning we were optimistic and at least going to stay warm and dry on our hunt! First thing, a quick trip into Beulah to grab some breakfast at the Hungry Tummy and a drive around the town area where Dad showed me 'Ye Old Vacation Spot of the Mellen Clan – Hill and Dale. It is now a private drive leading to large summer homes, but still nestled into the hillside as the cabins were, back when painting a building pink didn't raise any eyebrows… Crystal Lake is pristine, I would have loved to see it from a boat, looking down… and then we dropped by the Cherry Hut – more nostalgia for Dad. It was closed until the following weekend, but we managed some photos with the sign and that big red jolly pie face is almost just enough as it is!

Into the woods we went, a white Lexus bumping along dusty wooden trails… if there had been any local hunters around they probably would have laughed us off the grounds, but to look at us headed into the thick you'd think we were seasoned professionals. We had our gen-u-ine Spore Boy collection bags to allow spores to drop while we gathered (speculated effectiveness, but just in case!), handy hunting knifes, Morel Hunting Guides, water and soon each of us fashioned a walking stick (a must for any wood meander-er).

We were spoiled from the start, as not even two minutes into the thick Dad spied a beautiful white morel in a sunny patch of ground, not too far – although not as near as we had thought it would be, from the base of area trees. A quick photo of our first find! and it was into the bag and back on the trail. The next few… HOURS proved not to be quite as lucrative as Dad found another one (this time a Black) and I had come up with nothing but the dreaded Verpa (Bogus Morelus). We decided to change the plan and seek out more obscure woods that had not been as depleted. As tall grasses drummed a clinking racket along the underbelly of the car and branches grazed the side doors, we wondered if this hadn't been such a good idea to take the luxury vehicle "offroading"… Don't ever say Sedan owners aren't thrill-seekers!

It was in these woods that I 1. took twice the time to cover half the ground that Dad did… something about being in the woods got me all nostalgic and I started thinking about Mrs. Witch and her Elderberry Tea (don't worry, you're not supposed to get that unless you are my mother), and 2. found my first Morel! I had just stepped down into a recessed patch of ground with a heavy sigh, frustrated that the trip was turning out to be a dud of a gift, when I looked to the side and there, perched on the very top of a large mound of earth in the grace of a perfect ray of sunlight, grew the pert little Black morel that was to be my ONLY find. But the moment was so stunning that it lasted through the other 5 HOURS that we searched unsuccessfully.

At one point I climbed a tree, just to feel a sense of accomplishment, but the view, although Morel-less, was stunning. Patches of Trillium spread far across the forest floor, the sun and a pleasant breeze at least kept our tempers good while dealing with the defeat of barren woods. (Forgive my penchant for the dramatic) I will say that I have never spent time walking in the woods with my father and that was the most special thing about the entire trip… (although we both agreed that the Next Time, we will stick together more instead of the divide and conquer mentality, and that using cellphones to find each other in the woods is a strange and puzzling experience)

The next day we visited Gwen Frostic to load up on her beautiful and special note-cards, stationary and too many other things that I just had to bring back with me to Chicago. She has since passed but I pray that the shop goes on to thrive and continue producing her work. A bit of Michigan that should indeed be celebrated and appreciated! We did some more "Hunting" – and by this I mean pulling up to a string of cars with merchants holding signs that read "Fresh Morels!" ….Well, we had to leave with more than 3!!

I dragged us through one more spot in a last ditch effort to hit the mushroom jackpot, but we called in the dogs when Dad discovered a No Trespassing sign. …So I guess the city folk can't hang when it comes to Morel Hunting – but this was a learning curve – We'll be back again, Next Year!

Enjoy the pics!

Sarah

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first.

Welcome to my Intranet space for project discussion and creative output.

Having finally surrendered to the power of the blog. <sigh>

Life imitates art – art imitates life – art is work and work is life… or is it life is work(?) – this blog exists to sustain all.

saira.

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