Michigan’s northern lower peninsula is known for its beauty, natural resources, and in the spring, mushrooms! In Mesick there is even a festival to celebrate Michigan’s Morel mushrooms. In our family it was a spring tradition to wander the woods in hunt of this elusive and exquisite edible.
For some it was a competition and my Grandfather used to keep a dried out morel in his desk drawer. That way he could re-hydrate it so he would have first mushroom of the spring.
Mom was known as a skilled mushroom hunter among her friends. In fact one spring one of her good friends, Marlene, volunteered her to find and cook mushrooms for their church group. Unfortunately it was at the end of the mushroom season and she hadn’t been saving them up.
Under normal circumstances she wouldn’t have had a chance to collect enough to serve them to the entire group, but being a woman of faith, she was undaunted. So, with a prayer, she headed out to one of her favorite spots.
As she drove up she could see that someone had been out harvesting trees. This wasn’t a good sign as the woodsmen were likely to have trampled them or taken them home.
Instead she found several piles of mushrooms that the woodsmen had collected and left. In just a few minutes time she had enough mushrooms in buckets and bags to feed the whole group.
Later when she was chatting with her friend Vera, Vera asked, “Do you think that there will be mushrooms in Heaven?” I couldn’t help but interject, “Of course there will be, and in Heaven you will be able to find more than mom!”
Over the decades mom and I have continued the tradition and I go up every Mother’s day or as close as possible, and take mom mushroom hunting. A few years back mom’s arthritis had gotten so bad she had to have both hips replaced. We missed a few years, but the year after her surgery we took a walk in the woods over the Mother’s day weekend. She had a vise-like grip on my arm as we walked in the woods and her fear of falling was plain as we made our way up the hill. Arriving at one of her favorite mushrooming spots, she looked around and found a mushroom and the grip on my arm released. Soon she was dashing off as she found mushroom after mushroom. Later she reappeared with enough mushrooms to have a few nice meals out of them.
This year mom is turning eighty and still the plans are unchanged. Friday evening I will be heading up to mom’s and we will wander the woods a bit hand in hand or her hand gripping my arm. Before long I expect she will spot the first mushroom and the fever will hit again as she zips off in hot pursuit that would make The Flash’s head spin.
So if you are up for some Pure Michigan fun this weekend, head up north and wave if you see us wandering the woods. Maybe we will even catch you at the The Mesick Mushroom Festival.