Hunting the elusive morel mushroom in the Canadian prairie during the springtime is a family tradition that is as imprinted in my memory as my own name. The only memory that can hold a close second to mushroom hunting is fishing, as I outlined in my recent post My First Authentic Canadian Food Memory: Wild Caught Fish.
While we have foraged various types of mushrooms growing up the Morel remains the most sought after one, a true family favorite. Morels grow for a mere few weeks in the springtime, if they grow at all. Finding any mushroom is hard enough for a forager but Morels take the cake for elusiveness.
Morel mushrooms grow when they want, where they want and it’s never the same year to year. You may be lucky enough to find your lucky morel picking patch, but even that won’t guarantee that those brown beauties will be there next year. Morels depend on so many magic factors all happening at one time that even having a patch means that you have to check them almost bi-weekly in the spring. They will grow once and be done with it for another year.
Morel mushroom hunting is one tradition that didn’t fall by the wayside as much when I had my children. I’ve still managed to get out every second year or so to hunt them, sometimes in Alberta and sometimes in Manitoba on trips back to see family.
I never stop looking down at the ground in the springtime, even walking in the River Valley here in Edmonton, there’s always something to be found.
Plus my own feet to trip over, of course. Looking down and to the side has its disadvantages when you are clutzy like I am.
The family tradition of picking morels has been passed on to my children without intention. It’s simply what I do, just as it’s simply what my mother did and my grandma, and so on down the family lines. Spring comes, you forage morels. Teaching children to fish has more intention to it, more planning involved. Foraging mushrooms happens on a simple walk to the park, or a quick stop at the side of the road because the time of year and natural area is just right.
My sister and I took the my kids back to visit my Grandma in Dauphin when my daughter was a few months old and my son just over 2. It was a beautiful Manitoba spring and we managed to fit in some morel hunting along the way.
This would be my son picking his very first morel, simply because we knew that the time was right in Manitoba and my sister and I saw plant habitat on the side of the road that was just right for morels.
It almost cannot be taught, but ingrained into you.
Mr K with his first haul of morels. His sister was napping the car seat as we foraged the side of the ditch in rural Pine River area in southern Manitoba.
The year we went back to Manitoba for my Grandma’s funeral, we went out morel picking with my Aunt and cousin Cody as well. It’s just what my family does in the springtime. If you get us all together and in one place during morel season – even if it’s for a funeral- you can bet that a group of us will most certainly be going out mushrooming.
Oh, be still my breaking Mama’s heart, he’s so little here. I want my too-tall nine-year old boy to be this little again, a sweet little three-year old angel.
My beautiful seven-year old morel hunting girlie was out kicking butt and taking ‘shroom numbers this past weekend. Those morels didn’t stand a chance. How beautiful it is to see another generation of children in my family learning the ways of the spring Morel hunt, and that I get to be the one guiding my children in this journey is a gift beyond measure.
She can stay this size now. This is just right.
Tomorrow I will be posting some insight on how to find those elusive morels, not that I am an expert by any means. However I found that when I was sharing pictures on my Facebook page that I received many questions on where to find them.
Don’t expect that I’ll be giving away my secret spots, however I did take a lot of photos in the hopes of helping others learn what to look for when picking areas to search for those elusive beauties known as Morels.
Does your family have any foraging traditions? Any mushrooms that you pick every year?
I’m now off to smell those baby blankets and convince myself that I don’t need another child.