Saturday, June 11, 2016

Despite the Fact that One Cannot Sell Wild Mushrooms at the Muskegon Farmers Market, People Talk About Morel Mushrooms All Day Long.

June 3, 2015 ·

The conversation is good all the time at the Muskegon Farmers Market.

I talked Morels with a woman selling mushrooms her partner and she grew on a farm in Grand Haven. They sold for ten dollars a pound and required careful cooking and I deferred on buying an allotment until I had a good recipe ready. This was the last Saturday in May, and I asked, "Any chance of finding morel mushrooms still this season"? I heard the lore. Once the ground warms up, morels stop producing. She said maybe. Last week, she had a customer ask to buy morels, and she had to say no. Then her cell phone rang and a contact had discovered a front yard full of morels. The front yard of a yard in Norton Shores had sprouted with morels. I had to imagined what happened next to the two hundred and fifty pounds of morels that were quickly harvested. A woman had walked up and tuned into our talk. "Did the yard have an elm tree recently struck by lightening"? "Well, there is an elm tree in the yard," said the mushroom farmer. "It had to be struck by lightening recently. It wakes up the spores". The old elm tree in my back yard apparently hasn't worked hard enough to attract a thunderbolt. Maybe I'll have to wrap the upper branches with tin foil.

I was talking with two men at a bar in Manistee two weeks earlier. That weekend, it had rained on Saturday. Rain spoiled their turkey hunting so they went walk about for morels. They found a likely stretch and gathered almost three hundred of the funny looking fungus. I bought our threesome a round of Wild Turkey shots and the two talked about cooking morels, drying morels and selling morels. Didn't say a word about where to find the morels. Didn't expect more than a hint, but who is above a bit of whiskey persuasion?

I've gone out walking on nature trails near Muskegon three nights in the last week, and so far nothing has aroused my attention, not even a puff ball. Searching parks and public lands, surely the more accomplished morel hunters had already cut the crop to the ground in the morning before my evening walkabouts. I really thought this would be the year as I heard plenty of stories about plenty of big finds. An art historian even found one on her lawn in Grand Rapids, a discovery she trumpeted to Facebook, making me grovel in agony, hoping for a morel miracle. I'm going up north this weekend to a camp where I taught merit badges in the summers before college, and around Kalkaska, snow can be found in June in the deepest parts of the woods. Other than that, I've stood down the search until next year.

So I am searching for another Spring rarity. On the walk out to my outdoor living room, a bench at the western end of the Muskegon River Boardwalk, I noticed several couples of Canadian Geese strutting about with their goslings, goslings that had tripled in size since last week. I was trying to walk without disturbing the families, and still the group hustled away from my line of walk. The goslings are so hungry keeping up with rapid growth that the young beaks could peck at a blade of grass, uproot and chew while hustling. The adults can fly and the goslings are covered with a yellow fuzz that won't give lift. The adults picked a good spot to lay eggs as the grass and water has to do until the young can fly. The whole family is flightless until then.

I saw two large waterfowl fly up the river course, faster than Canadian Geese with a croaking call I failed to identify. I would hate for a pair of flying Canadian Geese to make a liar out of me. I downloaded a picture taken by rangers at the Sleeping Bear Dunes of two mated Sandhill Cranes and their young. On the theory that Sandies also hunker down until their young are fledged, I am planning to go looking for Sandies and their young once eBird confirms a family close to Muskegon.

Of course, this will be out at the large tract of land around Muskegon's Wastewater Treating facility. I have a friend who once a month drinks rare Scotch and attempts to teach me Gaelic at Hennessy's Irish Pub. He sips the scotch as he tests me for I put little enough time in on my studies between monthly sessions, as if a month isn't time for review. He also sits on Friday's at Unruly Brewing, his spot right at the front counter, drinking from the gargantuan stein granted the mug club members and munching cashews he brings in a leather pouch. In the water leftover after flocculation, oxygenation and of course filtration, he grows algae to burn as a biofuel. On sunny days it grows like cropsy in the lagoons and ditches. So I bought him a fill of his favorite Unruly, and after a few choice Gaelics words, he told me exactly where to find the Sandies. It took the time to drink a gargantuan serving of his favorite, so I got him another one. Nothing like cultivating a source.

The sun has set behind me at 330 degrees Northwest. The Mosquitos are growing daring. A Blue Heron has landed in the shallows between the drop off and the bulrushes and doesn't know I can see him standing stock still.
— at Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve.

June 3 2016 at 7:51 AM

The Parties in the Park season has begun at Hackley Park. The park has a green fence on all four sides and the refrigerated beer truck full of Budweiser products awaits under the maple trees. Even the light posts are bedecked with hanging baskets. Beer is served up by volunteers who are raising cash for the non-profit featured for the night. I don't know who tonight but they all are worthy organizations. And this is what we'll do until late August, every Friday. Food vendors offer local items at fair prices. I'm a fan of the walking Fajitas from Rosarito's Kitchen, spiced up to full heat with their homemade habanero sauce. Admission is free and Muskegon's better bands perform on the newly built stage, one with a roof so light rain doesn't stop the music.

Photo Credit

Sandhill Crane parent with child maybe four weeks old. Key Biscayne, Florida.

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