Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mushroom Hunting: The Almighty Morel


Well, friends, mushroom season is over. I hope those of you in the Midwest got out there into the woods and looked for those Morels. Mushroom hunting is an annual springtime ritual for the Blues and Yeakleys, Indiana families I married into. This poem — written probably 20+ years ago — talks about learning mushroom hunting from my Blue family.

Hunting Sponge
— for Jerry Lee Blue
The light settles on the forest floor wafting
like leaves into pools of ochre and new green.
Mary Ann and I, my father-in-law Jerry —
we’re hunting for mushrooms. The Indiana Morel.

In these woods behind his hog farm, Jerry hunts
each spring gray sponge, snakehead, yellow
sponge, elephant ears. At each find, he sees them
frying deep in butter. Look under sycamores,

Jerry tells me, especially dead ones. He walks to
a fallen tree, his shadow thickened by a lifetime
of dawn feedings, and pokes his walking stick, twisted
like a shillelagh, in the brush. See? Gray sponge.

Just the week before, Mary Ann and I
had gone looking for Indian arrowheads
in the newly plowed field behind the house.
In the living room, Jerry has a large jar,

eighteen inches tall, filled with stone points.
He sees them, bright as pebbles in a creek,
from the seat of his combine as he disks —
the metal blades turning black earth.

Mary Ann and I had spent an hour or two
without finding a single piece, when Jerry came out.
Only minutes, and he’s pointing. There’s one.
It’s broke, but here’s the other part that’s chipped off.


And that’s how he is today on our mushroom hunt:
Here’s a bunch. And there, right behind you.
I am concentrating hard, searching
for that Morel outline like a minaret,

a fleshy stalk topped by a pointed bulb
ridged like a brain. Three years hunting mushrooms,
and I still haven’t found one on my own.
But now, in a patch of dark green grass,

just a few feet from where Jerry has passed,
I see a small yellow tower. I call out,
Got one! A clump of yellow sponge.
Jerry turns back, looks at me, and says,

Ain’t that something? There they are, just shining.


— Vince Gotera, first appeared in the 1989
Literary Supplement of Arts Indiana.

Recently, Jerry and Mary Louise (my in-laws) were visiting for Amanda's and Amelia's graduations. They treated us to "store-bought" morels! We've been so busy we didn't get out to hunt the wild kind, but we still got to partake of the bounty of God's forests.




The treasure laid out


Ready to fry!


Morel done to a T!

Last Week's Shrooms!
 


Buttered and floured


Magic in the pan


MRE ... Mushrooms, Ready to Eat


It was a lovely little feast. Thanks, Mom and Dad! We'll find you some wild ones next year.


8 comments:

Barb said...

Yum, yum, yum, yum, YUM! Oh, why did I have to read this post so early in the morning?

Oh, and great poem, too. LOL!

Vince Gotera said...

Barb, you're my most faithful reader. Thanks! Are you a mushroom hunter too?

Barb said...

Vince, I've learned so much from you blog! But no, I'm not a mushroom hunter. The only hunters in this family are the cats, unfortunately. :-D

Anonymous said...

What a tasty poem ... buttery, ridged like a brain... JOHN O.

Vince Gotera said...

JohnO! Thanks for your comment. I didn't realize brains are buttery! Ha ha. --V.

Anonymous said...

I sent my husband Bill the link to this poem, Vince. When I was telling him about sending him the link, he told me to tell you about Andy Gumps and tulippoplars--and dog peckers, too. He agrees about the sycamores. . . Kate

Anonymous said...

21561

javieth said...

Very nice blog!!! I love to prepare some recipe that contain many mushrooms, i really like the flavor. Mushrooms combine with some ingredients are really delicous. So when i cook i usually add many mushrooms to my recipes and my husband is happy too.
Actually i was looking information about how to buy viagra but i was entertainment reading this blog.

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