When I was thirteen years old I worked as a tour guide at a cave. One evening the owners showed up with some very strange things. I had no idea what they were, but they were very secretive about them, only allowing short glances of them before they hovered over them again, cooing and petting their prize.
I was told they were morel mushrooms, a secret and rare delicacy. I've never really cared for mushrooms, especially when I was thirteen, so I didn't pay much attention other than to think how weird they were to be so excited about a mushroom. Especially one that was almost horrific in appearance. I couldn't believe they'd put that anywhere near their mouths. I will admit, the secrecy of their location and the excitement of the find had me curious enough that I've never forgotten the moment. I would have been willing to give them a try had they been offered to me. They weren't.
Since then I've heard of morels by happening upon secret conversations and doing my own research. I've never been a huge mushroom fan, but my tastes have changed over the years and I've considered buying some spores to try to grow my own. I've considered many different species to grow on my own, but the morel... That elusive morel that required a lot of work to find could possibly be grown in my yard if I bought spores. Though it was not guaranteed like the other mushrooms I could buy. The risk and price has deterred me over the past three years and I've never sprung for the kit.
THEN this happened in our front yard...
Morels grow near dead hardwood trees and we had to cut down our huge cottonwood trees a few years ago. I imagine that's why they popped up in our yard this year. As a friend put it - a gift from our fallen trees.
The picture above was the first picking. It ended up being a little over two pounds. My brothers and I have been interested in morels for a few years now, so we know what they sell for online and that pile meant we were suddenly rich. We'd hit the lottery.
I don't remember which pick this was - maybe third or fourth? At the end of the season, which is very short, we ended up picking about seven pounds of morels from our very own front yard. We shared quite a lot of them with friends, ate a lot of them and planned on dehydrating some. However, we ended up eating them all. They really are good. My tastes have already changed, but had I eaten them when I was thirteen, my tastes may have changed back then and I may have become a professional morel hunter. I could have become rich! Okay. Lets face it. All that would have happened was that I would have been out and about in odd places each spring and I would have had some pretty good meals each spring, if luck would have been with me. I don't think I could bring myself to sell these things.
We are now eagerly awaiting next spring to see if our gift will return.