With all the distractions, it takes some time to find that first morel. You find yourself slowly walking along scanning last year’s fallen leaves for any sign of a mushroom, but this simply won’t work. Remember, these mushrooms are so tiny 8 or 10 will fit on my camera’s lens cap with no trouble. The only way I’ve been able to consistently find them is to stand in one spot and visually scour the ground around me… say within 6’ or so. It’s not easy. Every muscle in your body is prodding you to take another step and your mind is telling you there are probably more and bigger mushrooms over by that stump, or out by the edge of the field, or… well… anywhere but where you have your feet glued. Sometimes it helps to kneel down and the knees of my jeans are usually damp and covered with dirt. Once I’m convinced there are no mushrooms in that spot (or more likely I just can’t stand in that spot any longer), I’ll take 2 or 3 steps and do it again. Still, that first mushroom can be very elusive and I can’t search in futility for very long before I get distracted. There is a lot to going on in the forest this time of year and every bit of it distracts from the task at hand.
With any luck, I’ll find one in the first 15 minutes or so. It gets a little easier after that. Before I pluck that first mushroom from the duff, I’ll carefully look nearby for more. There’s a distinct texture to morel mushrooms, so once I’ve found one and have a visual reference point, it seems my eye can pick out that odd little pattern with some regularity. There is almost always more than one, so a few minutes of turning over leaves can pay off. It’s not uncommon to realize I’ve been standing on a couple the whole time.
Yesterday was a good day. We got some mushrooms, even pulled a handful of wild leeks (which were devoured on the spot), and shot a few wildflower photos. Lunch is going to be spectacular!