Along the tree laden hillside while searching out mushrooms- morel that is, one finds that the social nuisances of today do not exist. They become relatively obsolete. They rather disappear. I didn’t worry about my phone’s battery life, or the likes or hits of any webpage I tend to frequent, or even contribute to. Trivial conversations, minimally intellectual advertisements, and pictures of cats were dead to me. I thought of the moment I was actually in; how many ticks were crawling up my legs. I thought of real things like: where would the next thorn-covered twig slap me, and will making noise startle snakes, bores, and spiders? I thought of how my plastic bag was lacking all scrumptious prizes, how I wanted to show my companion the intrigue of finding her first morel. I didn’t think of local hip-hop, writing poetry, or the Minneapolis cool-kid scene.
Jess hadn’t been out mushroom hunting before. I told her she had better be fast because these mushrooms were sneaky. She had never even seen the elusive morel in person. The marvel surrounding it neared surreal. They existed in the land where we stood. We were there, now here. Having battled a breakdown on the highway, booze, and the dusted country roads- we made it. We stood just beyond the black cattle in a green valley, high grass where it could, dried river in between the two sides. Morels were there. The outside world wasn’t. Nature prevailed. I could give a fuck about social media or the next big act on The Current. For most of the weekend I couldn’t remember where I placed my cellphone, or if it was charging, or lost, or dead. I didn’t remember making plans to meet up with anyone in particular on this getaway, but those I was supposed to meet up with I eventually did.
Surprisingly it all worked out according to plan, or the lack thereof. We found that specific mushroom, and we found it in troves. Multitudes so plentiful we walked back with pounds of the pale brown, or grey, or yellow fleshed oddities. It had popped up unexpectedly overnight- and at that very moment of awe, of excitement, and disbelief, it was right in front of us. It was just waiting to be picked. Morel and us; we were vis-à-vis.
I remember the rapid breathing induced by amazement. The smell of dirt was in my nose. The morel’s distinct scent directly after you pluck it from the ground was in the air. My hands had become covered in dirt, tainted, but I had never felt so fresh. Paths were mowed down by foot and walking stick; weeds had bent, bowed, and were cut down in our wake. We had caught the fever of finding our first morel, and now there was no turning back. No phones, no plans, just a backpack full of beer, a couple plastic bags, some smokes, and a hope that we could yell loud enough to find the rest of the party. We walked on applying sunscreen where necessary. Moving across the dried river bed, massive rocks exposed to the light. Pools formed hie ud da, trapping what had remained from late spring rains.
Crossing the valley to the other side I noticed more stripped trees, the good kind. Bark scattered below, leaves in abundance remaining fixed where they lay from last fall. The telling tale of season’s intersecting and becoming dependent upon one another. They merge to create a sought after delicacy. The ground was a deeper, darker, and a more rich soil than the side we had just left.
I stumbled toward the now-gone river’s edge and took a piss, relieving myself of the morning’s worth of lager and Gatorade. Beer can in hand I looked up at the logging trail on the hillside, and that is when I first spotted the tree. It wasn’t much of a tree, more of a dead tree. Naked from about 4 feet up to the top, just on the cusp of the trail, it stood. I walked closer. I moved my walking stick pushing away the vegetation in the way. Closer I came. I was about twenty feet away when I noticed the first one. It had just popped up over some leaves, and then it was over. It tried to run, but I caught it. Our bags were full and we started yelling for the others. That is what we did.