Chicken Mushroom, copperhead, Eastern box turtle, Flora and Fauna, gensing, Global Positioning System, GPS, john cleese, morels, mushroom, mushroom hunting, snakes, Squirrels, Sulphur Shelf, treasure, tree bracket fungus, Virginia, Witches Butter
My sister, Susan, and her friend, Jo, showed me where I might find morels in the woods behind our home during their recent visit to Virginia. “Check again after another week of higher than sixty degree days,” Jo advised when we failed to find any. This week, as instructed, I set out to scavenge near fallen logs and hardwoods, poking gently at the layers of dead leaves with a sturdy stick.
I skirted the meandering creek in quiet solitude, thinking about our soon-to-be-born granddaughter, and how I might take this same walk with her someday. I am convinced there is treasure in these woods. I only need to see it the right way.
After reading David Taylor’s intriguing book, Gensing, the Divine Root, a few years ago, I hunted unsuccessfully for months in search of green gold; the Root of Life. Now, I’m after mushrooms. I found plenty of fungi, but I wanted to find the wrinkly morels; the filet mignon of mushrooms, the epic epicurean delight Susan and Jo drool over just imagining it sautéed in butter.
Two young squirrels bounded ahead of me, turning often to glare suspiciously at me. They also searched for treasure. Near every tree Jo had identified, I found evidence of their digging. Is it possible they ate morels? One darted up a tree and chattered angrily at me. “I’m not after your buried nuts!” I insisted. It darted around the trunk, out of sight.
A serpentine shape wiggled in the leaves between me and the tree. A thin head poised to strike my bare leg if I advanced. There is very little copper in a copperhead.* It does not shine like the bottom of my Revere Ware! I’d only seen pictures, so I imagined a real one would shimmer a little. Au contraire, it blended perfectly into the leafy ground cover. Taking a picture never occurred to me as I slowly stepped backward, like John Cleese in a reverse silly walk.
What if more snakes squirmed below the bed of leaves? I arched around the snake, giving it a wide berth, then took off running. I aimed for the two squirrels who bounded ahead. They paused to gaze back at me and I read a different expression in their eyes. They seemed to say, “Follow us, we’ll keep you safe.” One of them had actually warned me to watch my step! This idea satisfied me so much, I left the wilderness and aimed for the well-beaten path to continue my walk. “You can have the morels,” I said to the squirrels, really meaning it. I’d found enough to treasure this day.
* I don’t mind the black ones, when they are underfoot!” (Memory Lake, Chapter 23, “Going with the Flow.”)