Thursday, May 8, 2014

Praying for Mushrooms

See the May 6 entry to learn all about the dump on our property and what Patrick is doing about it. This related but more cheerful story begins when, while cleaning up the dump, Patrick found next to it a fine patch of morel mushrooms. That's right, the coveted, the sought-after; the fungi I told everyone I'd scoured the property for, year after year, and never ever found, so therefore (I confidently concluded) there was none. One Divine reader commented that on 100 acres there must be some morels, but I didn't heed him. I had scoured every inch of the land -- except in the area of the dump.

Finding morels was the news of the decade around here, but I was annoyed with myself because few things are as humbling as broadcasting one's righteousness and then being proven wrong. To be fair, the previous tenants, Europeans who knew where and how to look, hadn't found any morels in their 10 years here, either. So, Patrick having shown me where he found the morels, I tromped through the woods alone, combing through trash and likely sites and ravines, and found not even one. It's late in the season. The morels grow taller at season's end, easier to see, but they have little flesh. I thought, "Finding just one would make me feel so much better." No morels.

"I guess you want to teach me a lesson," I said to God/Lord Ganesha (the elephant-headed Hindu god of the material world, my favorite). I added, "However, God/Lord Ganesha, I have learned this lesson now. Please present me with a morel so I can quit scolding myself." About to give up, I walked over an incline and suddenly saw on a tree stump the hugest, most dazzling and freshest Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus) mushroom I have ever seen. Yes, edible, and how! Always positively identify such mushrooms, cook thoroughly before tasting, and take only a little first bite; a small percentage of people react badly to it.

With my knife I cut away about a pound and a half of the flesh that some say tastes like lobster. I cleaned and chopped it up, sauteed it with salt and pepper, ate some, and froze the extra for later, perhaps to top a pizza. And on a reconnaissance mission to the dump I did find morels: two. So now my harsh feelings are salved, and I know the gods (Thank Y'all!) must either like me or find me amusing. They are generous.

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