Outdoors Column: Escape from Reality

Hunting mushrooms is a good excuse to get outdoors for fresh air and exercise. I have learned over the years; it is not a good way to prevent starvation. Much more energy is expended in pursuit of the elusive delicacies than can be gained from eating them.


Saturday was a beautiful spring day. Conditions were perfect for the first of the morel mushrooms to be popping out of the ground, waiting for us to come harvest them. Several days of warm weather with ample rain are what they need. My wife and I, aided by two dogs, headed into the timber to our favorite mushroom spot. The dogs are along for their entertainment as we have been unable to teach them to hunt mushrooms. Deer can find them, and turkeys find them. The dogs are either unable to locate morels or just do not care. I suspect it is the latter. They would rather hunt squirrels and rabbits than help us find mushrooms.


We checked areas near the creek where the warm sun hit the moist banks. We checked around dead elm trees and under rose bushes. We looked in open grassy areas and in the dense woods where turkeys had turned the soil looking for acorns and insects. We did find goldfinches, a turkey, several deer, a pair of rose breasted grosbeaks, and several wood ticks. It seemed we could find most anything, other than morel mushrooms.


We spent the next hour or so just driving around on the trails through the timber. A person can get a case of cabin fever this time of year, especially if we are off our normal routine with the quarantine and partial shutdown of everything. Whether the shutdown is doing more good than harm is debatable, but we our doing our part by staying away from people. So far, almost everything we have been told about the pandemic has been incorrect except the part about hurting the economy. Getting outside to enjoy nature is a great way to get refreshed and for a while, forget about retirement plans going down the tubes, wondering if businesses will survive, and how long the government can give us our money while telling us it is a grant or advanced unemployment.

When we returned to the house, we were able to think more clearly. These days will pass, and though few things will be the same, we will survive. The dogs curled up next to us as we watched the setting sun. They were tired from their hunt and did not have a care in the world. We seemed to have fewer worries as we enjoyed the sounds of the songbirds in the nearby trees. We do have a few constants in our life. One is, we never find mushrooms on the first outing. Two is, we always find ticks when mushroom hunting, three is, and that the natural world will be there for our enjoyment and escape.