We spent about 15-16 hours over the last three days foraging river bottoms laced with cottonwood and maple, and a few mini-stands of fir and cedar mixed in, with nothing to show for it, aside from the large mental scar that is left behind. The scar forms slowly, very slowly, and doesn't become apparent until that one moment when you firmly call it quits and head for home. During that moment all the certainty you had that the morels were there winds itself into a mass of misinformed thought in your mind, you try to shrug it off to the "learning curve", but despite your best efforts it instantaneously solidifies during the nano-second of thought in which you accept that you will go home empty handed. The scar that is left behind is all consuming for longer than it should be, you poke it at, feel along its foreign edges for some clue as to how you let this happen. But there is no "clue", just a scar. Learning from the scar is the crucial part, I think. To make sure you come away from it with knowledge rather than a general distaste for its creation is key, in fact it may be the key.
Nonetheless, it was very nice to be out in the woods and it was not without some new experience. For instance, this may have been the first time ever that I mostly lost interest in fishing. There was an excellent trout river within sight or sound all weekend, yet I found myself nary thinking of pursuing the trouts. Instead my eyes were fixed on the duff, looking for a springtime secret to be poking its head out of the fallen leaves, when I did look up it was only to search for the next patch of promising ground, a big old growth cottonwood, or a freshly fallen fir.
To say that the weekend was a total loss on the morel front is a stretch. On the way to the hunting grounds on Friday I noticed a curious shape sprouting up from some mulch under a fence that creates the border of a road ditch and a front yard. Upon closer inspection we found loads and loads of morels had fruited in an apparently new (last summer/fall) area of landscaping. On the way back through that evening we stopped in and knocked on the door. I should say now that I had written off consumption of "landscape morels" for fear of undue exposure to unknown substances (the bark is often treated with undesirables and people have been known to lay down the pesticides in such areas) so my interest in these morels was initially academic. However, after yet another day of finding no true morels in the woods, I thought it would be worth checking into the large fruiting of mulchies that we saw. I was hoping to hear that they used organic mulch and didn't use pesticides, in which case I probably would have harvested the lot of them. However, upon speaking with the residents I learned they used the cheapest mulch available (I must admit, after hearing this I was still thinking of eating some of them) AND they had recently spread a very strong herbicide over the whole area. That pretty much put an end to any thought entertaining ingestion of these treats. So, some pictures and admiration of their akward beauty would have to do. I must say though, this find did nothing but accelerate my sureness that at least some morels would be found, which in the end only led to a bigger, more subtantial scar.
All that aside, these pictures are still very fun to look at! Enjoy!