Noah brought home some morel mushrooms today. He found them along the sidewalk in our neighborhood. Jill had noticed them walking the kids to school, but had just watched them grow. Noah decided that it was time to pick them after hearing Jill's childhood stories of mushroom hunting. With Jill and I both growing up in rural Central Illinois, we were used to the month of May bringing lots of rain and a bit of early summer humidity. These were always the perfect conditions for mushrooms and we both have found memories of mushroom "hunting" with our families. My parents always took my siblings and we would wonder the woods looking for these edible morels. They would always tell us stories of past years when they would find more mushrooms then they could imagine. It was always a fun excuse to walk in the woods and to appreciate nature in a physical way. My Grandma Ruby would help us identify different kinds of wild flowers and plants and I remember identifying types of trees when the hunting was slow. It's funny now to think of the applied education that I got during those jaunts to the woods; and I'm just now realizing what a privilege it was to have a family of "teachers" sharing their knowledge about the great outdoors. We always had specific locations that we would hunt each year and these locations were secret patches where the mushrooms always seemed to "pop-up". Our family swore by their secret locations and always had interesting names like "The Old Elliot Place on Horten Hill" or Jill's favorite childhood location; The Rock Cave Behind Wickie's. Very few people would know these location via that name as the reference dated back to when people lived in these secluded areas, but the houses ceased to exist anymore. You always took a bread bag with you to put your mushrooms in and sometimes we would hit the "mother-load" and fill our bags. I remember my Dad preparing the mushrooms by breading and frying them. They would disappear as quickly as he could cook them. Again, I'm just now realizing what a cool experience this was.
Well it seems Noah was moved enough by the stories that Jill and I have told him and so he took it upon himself to pick these particular mushrooms. Tonight I prepared his mushrooms by soaking them in salt water and tomorrow I'll cook them for Jill and the kids. It's so good to be able to pass these stories on to my kids... even if he can't have quite the same experience that I did.