The entire forty mile journey down to the farm we found scenes like the one above, cars pulled off to the side of the road or just off in farm field entrances. The vehicles all shared one common feature, the air of having been abandoned, their owners no where to be found. Morel season here in Iowa or as I like to call it, the Mushroom Madness is in full swing which means that during the daylight hours, the streets of all rural towns, the homes of all our rural residents are abandoned. Many a stranger has come across this and automatically assumed that they arrived many years after an epidemic of some sort must have wiped every human off the face of this world. I know I would if there was nary a soul to be seen and scores of abandoned vehicles lining the roads.
We picked up Grandma and after saying hello to Grandpa who was planting corn, we drove down to our favorite spot. I could tell you where but then I would have to kill you and that really hurts blog readership so I'll just leave it at that. We promptly abandoned our car and marched off into the woods, never to be scene again to passersby, at least until we returned.
Inside the trees, the ground was perfect for morels. It has a spongy feeling of plenty of past moisture and just the right amount of grass, plants, and shrubbery growing over it. All signs pointed to a bumper crop just waiting to be found. I could practically smell them. We slowly worked our way towards our spore hunting grounds with heads down scanning for new areas. The tree tops could have been a neon orange and we wouldn't have notices. Occasionally I did glance around to keep tabs on my bearings towards the next Mushroom Machine. For new people to my blog, a Mushroom Machine is a recently deceased elm tree which produces a chemical in its death throes that spurs the production of morel mushrooms in such numbers, one can quickly be overwhelmed. I once found a small grove of these trees and found a site that I hope to see again someday but probably never will, a forest floor paved in morels as far as I could see. It took me several hours of picking all the while giggling like a little school girl and furtively glancing over my shoulder from time to time looking for someone who might spot me which would force me to murder them to keep the secret, before I finally picked the last mushroom and started hauling all my sacks, coats, shirt made into a bag, etc. out to the vehicle to take them home. It was a day which I will fondly remember here on this blog about every couple years or so.
But back to this past weekend. I wandered time and again past the prime breeding grounds of morel mushrooms and more than one mushroom machine and saw nary a mushroom. In fact, it took a full hour of searching before I found the first mushroom and it wasn't of the morel kind. See the picture below. I'm disappointed. I'm starving for a morel sandwich. Worst of all, the forecast is calling for a lack of precipitation and cooler temperatures which may put the kabosh on mushroom season. Even worse, next weekend is not looking like I will get a chance to head out to the timber with all the other residents of southeast Iowa. I feel a sick day during the middle of the week coming on. Oh yeah, I got the mushroom madness is a big, spongy, slightly earth flavored but really good fried with a bit of Parmesan cheese kind of way...