Although morel hunters are avid to begin their hunt, in truth, it is the mushrooms that lie in wait. The main part of the morel grows underground in a vast, secret mesh called the mycelium. Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies, thrust upward only when the mycelium is ready to propagate. When the mushroom is agitated, by hoof, wind or knife, millions of spores fly from the cap.
It's a moist spring day. You've had a good hunt. You lean and sniff the dark, earthy scent of your basket of morels. It's the smell of sap; of white petals, pink-veined; it contains the crying of crows, puddles, wet twigs. You shake your gloves. Spores spin. You turn to your feast, an eager participant in spring's renewal.
If you go...
Check with your local mycological society for news on spring forays into the forests to hunt for morels. They include:
- The Mycological Society of Toronto
- Vancouver Mycological Society
- Edmonton Mycological Society
- Le Cercle des mycologues de Montréal (CMM)
Morels, a book by Michael Kuo, is a great primer for the uninitiated on hunting this elusive mushroom; read it while taking a break at the Torch Lake Bed & Breakfast in Central Lake, Michigan, which lists morel hunting as one of its popular activities.
(Michigan, incidentally, is the unofficial home of the morel, with tons of sightings and specialists available.)