Sunday, May 2, 2010

Miss Tasha the Morel Maven

It could be said about me that if I didn’t have bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. Yet…..sometimes, stupid crappy things happen in such a way that I can’t be too pissed off (even though I always am), because if things had happened slightly differently, it would have been far far worse. Case in point – when my heater/furnace for my 2-flat conked out in the dead of winter. The day before I was leaving town. This meant I had to scramble to find someone to come by and fix it, while shivering in a freezing house. Bad luck, yes?

On the other hand, had this happened a day later, since my tenant hadn’t moved in yet and it was insanely cold, I in all likelihood would have come back to a really nasty flood and major damage, with burst pipes everywhere. So, good luck or bad? Who can say?

And then there’s the weird stuff, where I think – okay, now god is just toying with me. Take today – the day of the big morel hunting extravaganza with Jillian and Mark and their family/friends. One has to understand that morel hunters are a fanatical breed, and the whole concept of morel hunting is shrouded in secrecy, with people doing whatever they have to to protect their sacred morel spots. I consider myself fortunate I was allowed to go morel hunting with the clan – and wasn’t even blindfolded on the way there! Though I have no doubt that if I go spreading the word about where we went, I’d be dead inside of a week. Some things are sacred, morel spots primary among them.

So I head off with Robyn – we get a late start, because of course I’ve had a slowly leaking tire on my car that I keep filling up, and this morning my anonymous friend “Stan” (aka Keith) comes by and deems it necessary to put the spare on. Which will take a while because my chintzy jack won’t work properly.

As an aside, am I the ONLY one who thinks the whole “use a penny and Lincoln’s forehead to check the tread on the tire” concept was made up by some bored mechanic who thought it would be hilarious for people to be pulling out pennies and carefully gauging the visibility of Lincoln’s forehead (!) to see if their tires are driving-worthy? I can see it now, after a blowout: “But my tires couldn’t have been that bad! I couldn’t see Lincoln’s forehead AT ALL!” I mean really.

In any case, Robyn and I finally get to the Secret Place (yes, I know better than to reveal the favorite morel hunting spots), and meet up with the gang. Jillian and Mark are dressed in camouflage. And they’ve found some morels, but it seems to be a bit of a slow year. We get a primer on what to look for – i.e. brains, hidden near certain trees , and I of course make it clear where the priorities are right from the beginning.

Me: Okay everyone, so just so you all realize, I do have cancer – and mushrooms are supposed to be potent cancer fighters. Not that that should give me priority of course – I mean (sniffle), I’m sure I can beat The Cancer all on my own, just by fighting really hard. And eating lots of fried chicken – Buckets for the Cure, you know. But I just thought I’d throw that out there.

With that out of the way, we set off. Looking, looking…..

Mark: Over here!

We all go traipsing over, to see a lone morel hanging out under some foliage. We take a picture. I get the privilege of cutting it loose. We keep looking, trudging through the woods, getting soggy, me at least tripping over logs and banging into trees, finding nothing. Somehow this just doesn’t seem right to me.

Me, perturbed: So Mark, doesn’t the newbie rule apply here? You know, beginner’s luck? Like in the movies, where the person who’s never been hunting for mushrooms suddenly randomly stumbles upon the motherlode? Where’s the motherlode?
Robyn: That’s right, the newbie rule, like with diving for crayfish. How the new people can never see them, but the old hands see them everywhere.
Me: Umm, yeah, like that but the opposite. Or something. Anyway, what’s the deal? Why aren’t I stumbling across a field of morels and calling you guys over with my newbie enthusiasm and blind luck?
Mark: That’s not how it works with morel hunting, unfortunately.
Me, muttering: Why not? That’s just not right.

After the lone morel find, we look around some more, and then some people have to go, so Robyn and I go meet Jillian and Mark in the parking lot. We say our goodbyes, and as they’re driving off, Mark idly tells us “Oh, you might want to look over by that tree over there – I found a morel there last year.”

We can see where this is going, yes?

Robyn is ready to go, but I figure we should at least go check out the tree. We’re walking along, looking down, I have a humongous stick that I’ve picked up to push aside foliage, when…

Me: Oh my god, look, A BRAIN!!!
Robyn: You’re joking.
Me: No really, look! Oh my god, another one! And another one! We’ve found the motherlode!!

For some reason I now starting acting as if we’ve stumbled upon a crime scene.

“Don’t move!” I bark. “I’m calling in reinforcements! Don’t touch anything!”

I immediately call Jillian, figuring they couldn’t have gotten too far.

Jillian: Hello?
Me: Jillian! Get back here! I’ve found the motherlode!
Jillian: You’re joking, right?
Me: No!
Jillian: We’ll be right there.

They come back, and as we walk the area, we keep finding more and more mushrooms. A cluster here. A big one there. A veritable morel bonanza. And I can’t stop cracking up.

Me, to Mark: How ‘bout that beginner’s luck, eh?

Mark looks bemused, and a little stunned.

We divvy up the shrooms, which I had for dinner with some homemade canned peaches that Mark made. And of course, I giggled madly all the way home…….

No comments: