What are a few mushrooms among friends?

More than any one thing, springtime to me means mushroom hunting. I could refer euphemistically to it as a pastime, but really it borders on obsession. I have numerous (and tear-bringingly fond) remembrances of weekend days spent in the woods of southern Ohio searching for ephemeral, finicky, and camouflaged morels armed with naught but the good company of my family, the occasional close family friend, and my astute eyes. If you Google “Michigan morels” you’ll promptly bring up several message boards (many of which I am a regular stalker!) that should give you some indication of (1) how revered these things are (if you aren’t a hunter yourself, you still might not understand) and (2) how extensively they grow up here in our stomping grounds. This was not a small consideration when choosing our post-Georgia home.

My parents arrived early Wednesday afternoon, followed by Tony’s parents late Wednesday night. (Important aside: we must be among the luckiest couples in the world, for we have the good fortune of not only liking each other’s parents, but also that our parents get along pretty gosh-darned well.) I cooked morel-parmesan (what else?) omelets for each of us for breakfast, and then we headed off for several hours of less-than-stellar Sleeping Bear Dunes mushroom hunting. Though Tony and I had done pretty well here earlier in the season (FYI: it only lasts for a few brief weeks), but the whole area seemed just about done producing. Nerds! And also no big deal, because then we all enjoyed some Red Mesa for dinner. Yum!

Undaunted, we met up at Chandler Hills – one of the coolest deep-woods up here. It’s full of rolling hills, the occasional surprisingly steep hill, and a maze of ORV trails. What that really means is that most of the traffic on those paths consists of snowmobiles (affectionately called sleds by the local sled-heads), four-wheelers, and dirt-bikes. However, I firmly believe that Dad’s motto is that if the truck fits, then the truck goes. I am always amused and amazed at the places that truck is capable of going. (I would show you pictures, but I don’t have any. Perhaps next year.) It’s not just that the trails are narrow, it’s that they’re also alternately sandy (by which I mean beachy and pillowy), muddy (you know, the kind where the tire tracks look feet deep), steep (as in you’re a little afraid that even though the nose of the truck points downhill, that the bed might end up in first place and on its ventral side), and oddly banked (such that you’re convinced that at any moment you will be riding in a two-wheeler). So it goes that when we’re between patches, we have almost as much fun as when we’re in aforementioned patches. Almost.

We all ended up with a fairly decent catch – even Tony’s mom who was sure she wouldn’t find any on account of she hadn’t hunted for years and claimed not to be great anyway. Personally, I think it was just some kind of lowered-expectations tactic so that we’d all be impressed at any amount she gathered 😉 They headed back south Saturday morning with some of the shrooms, and the four of us headed back to Chandler Hills. Hours and hours and laughs and laughs later, we returned home to survey our take. Happy with our success, I fried us a pan-full for a bedtime snack.

Mom and Dad left this morning, I started the dehydrating process, and proceeded to enjoy a hot (81 degrees!) and breezy spring day. For those of you wondering, yes we did follow up with a traditional Torch Lake and ice cream sunset (cherry Moose Tracks – delicious and practically a health food…brimming with antioxidants in the chocolate and cherries 😉 ). It wouldn’t have been much of a show, but we had a thunderstorm rolling in from the west shooting out that bright red lightning that thunderstorms do which stand in stark contrast to the deep blue of the lake and sky.

It was a good extended weekend, and I wouldn’t be nearly so ready for the upcoming week if we didn’t have time slated with the Shawlers and Cliftons! Oh, and this weekend marks our one-year Michigan anniversary.  Life is great.

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