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The Morel of the Story

At some point this month I think it is reasonable for us to expect black morels to make their appearance in Southern Ontario, followed by yellow morels. In fact there have already been some vague reports of early black morels showing up not far from Toronto. Last year I picked yellow morels in the third week of May but given the freaky warm early spring, I would not be at all surprised if the mushrooms were long gone by that time this year.

Many people ask the question, where do you find morels? I can only say that they appear where they damn well please, but they do like some kinds of places much better than others. Sometimes they appear where the books say you should never expect them. In some areas they seem to like certain kinds of trees but in other areas, a different strategy is needed. One thing for sure, it is rare for an intrepid morel hunter to give up a spot.

Now I’ve been fortunate. I inherited a couple spots. By that I mean, my brother inherited a couple spots, but they’re out of his normal hunting range and he was kind enough to bequeath them to me. Although from time to time we might have our disagreements, it’s very hard to be cranky when your brother offers up a morel spot. That is very special indeed. This is a serious responsibility. Morels fruit just once each season. If somebody finds your spot – guess what, it isn’t your spot anymore. And so the ritual starts. I find the hardest thing is driving out to my spots while blindfolded. That’s just dangerous. And then there is the matter of finding a parking spot several miles away from the picking grounds, covering the Anchovymobile with camo-netting, sweeping away the tire tracks, and making the long hike in and out. You can never be too careful when it comes to morels.

I suspect that mycological societies everywhere have spring forays that are really morel hunts in disguise. This must be a real problem for the foray leaders. You know anyone with the experience to lead forays has some morel hotspots in the bag. And you know there is no way he or she is going to share them with 40 foray participants. That would be madness. And so, on the theory that there are a few morels everywhere, they go to productive forests, turn their charges loose, and hope for the best. Every now and then I imagine a few morels are found.

Not only do I now have the responsibility to protect a couple morel spots, to complicate matters even more, one of those spots also has ramps, tasty wild leaks ready to pick at the same time. I take this responsibility seriously, mostly because I’d like to be able to harvest a brimming basket of morels and a bag of ramps every year.

So, where are my spots? Just drive east to the Quebec border…you’re almost there. I’ll send you a map.

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