Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Morels from April

Okay, yes, I found morels, it was two months ago, that’s how far behind I am because if I don’t post in a timely manner I just keep hiking and taking more pictures and this is what happens.

Everybody who hunts mushrooms and/or takes nature pics and/or has a blog has probably posted about morels, so I'm under a lot of pressure to think of how to make it interesting, but I did capture a few images that I thought were worthy of taking up space on the internet.

Here is the tiniest morel I’ve ever seen:

tiny morel with dime

I went back a few days later, expecting it to have shot up to “beer can” size (apparently that’s an industry standard for describing how big your morel is), but it had hardly budged. So I got curious, having seen many other mushrooms grow at a furious rate in mere days (like they're known for), and I found some things like a pretty bad YouTube time-lapse video of some morels growing (bad because it was really a slide-show, which is cheating, with clever, spinning “fun” shots sprinkled in, and many shots with nothing to compare the size to, and there was goofy music), but appreciated nonetheless because I hadn't taken the time to do that, and I sure didn't know morels take up to a month to get full-sized

*Edit*  Soon after I posted this, one of my faithful followers, the wise and lovely Maxine Stone, kindly took the time to email me this:

"Hi Lisa:
I think this is a Morchella deliciosa.  These are small morels and the ridges are more like lines that go up and down as you can see in the pic.  They are usually grayish but this one looks old."

So I thought this was just a very, very young Morchella esculenta, but it is, in fact, a different species. These don't ever get "beer-can sized," they top out at about 3". And besides the ridges having more "verticality," for lack of a better word, I would probably notice the stems, which seem to be generally more slender, and less gnarly than the common M. esculenta.

I sure am glad that people who have been at this a lot longer than me are actually reading this blog! Thanks again, Maxine.

Here is the most beautiful morel I found all season:

Gray morel

These are called “greys” on the street but it’s a “Classic North American Yellow Morel”, Morchella esculenta (near as I can tell, from this site). I loved how the pits were so dense, making it extra-crinkly, and the luminous moon-color around the dark pits. This would eventually turn blonde-yellow.

Even though this morel almost looks black-and-white, which seems like it would show up easily against new green growth and last year's brown leaves, it was very, very hard to see. Because it was a morel. And they just pop into this dimension when they feel like it. Sometimes it seems like they’re made more of shadows than solid matter.

DSC09303  Gray and yellow morel in hand
The beautiful grey again, and a blonde and grey in hand. Same species.

Above, some morels that have offered themselves to me to eat, waiting patiently.

I hiked many, many times this spring, found enough morels to share, and one night fried a whole bunch of them in seasoned breadcrumbs and couldn’t stop eating them as soon as they were cool enough to put in my mouth so they never filled the plate and then I felt a little sick, but I think it was from eating too much, and not me developing a sensitivity to them (which can happen with any food), which would be fine with me because there’s a lot of anxiety around morels, everybody trying like hell to figure out what triggers their arrival and where’s the best place to find them, and all this protocol and etiquette and stories and legends (and sometimes bad feelings), when chanterelles are so plentiful and easy to find and sweet and delicious and can come up for months. But, it’s usually cool and pretty out when you go morel-hunting, and there’s all the other small waking-up forest citizens around, so all is well.