I am a terrible gardener. The time that it takes to plan and plant a garden and then nurture the young plants to maturity by fighting the very forces of evolution (face it, the fittest plants in any garden are the weeds) is time I would rather spend fishing. Don’t get me wrong; I am thrilled that agriculture has made finding something to eat a weekly market chore rather than an all-day, every day, pursuit. It’s just that the local Amish family that sets up a market stand along our road is so much better at it, that I am happy to exchange a few dollars for a bag of veggies on my way to or from my latest fishing outing. That said; there is something infinitely more satisfying in cutting out the middleman in the process of bringing food to the table. Perhaps that is one reason I like to hunt and gather.

I have been having the best Black Morel gathering season that I have ever experienced. I have done nothing to plant and nurture these mushrooms. My only accomplishment is that I managed to find them. Yet when I burst through the door with my picking bag bulging with hundreds of morels I feel a pride of accomplishment far beyond what my efforts should warrant. I feel like a male Australian Bower Bird strutting and presenting gifts to his mate as I hold the bag out to my wife. She coos appreciatively and calls me her great white morel hunter. Actually, I say, these are Morchella elata the Black Morel not Morchella deliciosa the White Morel. She stops cooing and grabs a knife from the counter. “Black or white they’re not going to clean themselves.” she says as she hands me the knife.  Turns out it is difficult to strut and clean morels at the same time.

The piece above and the poem that follows were written several years ago. I hope to see more Morel seasons like that in the future.

After Morel Picking

(with apologies to Robert Frost)


My black, mesh picking bag is hanging by the door, Mushroom scented now

My Nikon sits upon the window sill,

Its memory card with hardly room for more.


The mushrooms are still out there for the deer

but I’m done picking morels for this year.


For I have have had too much

of morel picking; I am overtired

of the great harvest I myself desired.


The dehydrator yellow-stained with spores,

trays all empty now.

Large Rubbermaid containers now are stuffed

with morels; packed away in pantry drawers.


Others may stumble on my spots I fear,

but I’m done picking morels for this year.


Color photo of a brown trout with a fly in its mouth. Pulled to the surface by the flyfisher it is half in and half out of the water.

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© Allan Sutley 2015