One of my earliest memories involves hunting morels — a wild woodland mushroom everyone in my family is obsessed with finding and eating. I am very small, sitting on my dad's shoulders as he walks through the woods. There is loping swoop of being carried high off the ground, and smears of light filtered through trunks and branches. We stop and look closely at the ground. Sticks and leaves. Held by some invisible thing, we look again, and a scant handful of morels materializes. Like the key to a code, that first cluster reveals the secret of seeing. Suddenly there are hundreds, a wrinkled forest in miniature, patterning the ground like a ornate carpet literally unfolding before our eyes. We take them home, glad and greedy, and my dad cooks them our favorite way: dusted in flour and fried in butter, served with rare venison tenderloin and eggs over easy.
In the next week or three, my dad will call with details of this season's find (and the feast that follows). Hearing about it always brings back the sudden magic shifts in vision I've had finding mushrooms, its own kind of mind-altering experience.
The Ohio Mushroom Society has a beautiful and cryptic list of clues for when you might find morels, like "when the tulip poplar leaves are the sizes of a silver dollar" and "when the mayapples start to flatten out." They are like miniature poems for mushroom hunters.
In other news: I love the crazy camo patterns of this season's Temperley x Barbour Gold Label jackets. Perfect for urban safaris.