Fortunate Find

How many mushrooms can claim to have multiple websites, several online forums, numerous books, and various t-shirts dedicated solely to singing their praises? If that isn’t enough, how about an annual festival? The answer: only one, the morel. I didn’t know this until I stumbled upon a sizable patch of morels in our back woods this week. I knew they were morels, but until I went looking for more information on their natural history, I had no idea that they were such a highly prized and elusive delicacy. Because they cannot be cultivated, morel aficionados scour the woods each spring, hoping conditions and their luck are just right to find a motherlode. If you are a morel lover, I wish I could send you the genuine article from my woods; instead, my sketch will have to do.

Text reads: “If there has been enough rain and if the temperature is neither too hot nor too cold, and if the winter has been neither too mild nor too severe, and if you are in the right place at the right time, you may find morels.” Tom Volk, Tom Volk’s Fungi

26 Comments on “Fortunate Find

  1. Fortunate you to be that person in the right place at the right time in the right conditions! I’ve never seen a morel, but they look fascinating. That must have been a fun sketch to do.

  2. Ah, the queen of the forest. Morels in cream sauce, there is no better dish!

    • To be honest, they are the homeliest mushrooms I have ever seen and I can’t imagine being the first person who decided to try eating one. Not a fan of mushrooms, I’m going to harvest them and bring them to a friend.

  3. I’ve been searching for morels for the last month with no success. Every year they elude me. The quote you chose is perfect!

  4. Love Morels and your page. You have made me hungry and brought back good memories. When we lived in France, our house backed up to National Forest. There were morels there as well as other mushrooms and lots of people silently hunting for them, heads down, intent.

  5. Wonderful painting of morels – the favorite mushroom of most of mushroom geeks like myself! And May is the time for the beauties that arrive where you live and in the nearby Berkshires. I spent days hunting and had my favorite spots. Now they are harder to find in the PNW so I will enjoy your bounty from afar! They will come back next year and keep looking for the next few weeks. Lucky you!!

    • They are unbelievable close to my yard and house. About 30 paces into the woods. I tend not to go in that particular direction in May because the poison ivy is sprouting like crazy. But I was in search of the wood thrush and wearing my wellies, so Voila! Right place, right time.

  6. Here in California, morels are likely to be found in burned areas in the mountains in the spring. I’ve also seen them turn up in wood mulch in a median strip on a busy city avenue, on asphalt in a parking lot, and most recently at the base of a wood post of a 30 year old retaining wall in my suburban garden! Surprising!

    • I read about them popping up in burned over areas out west. It’s fascinating to think about the conditions that stimulate their fruiting. It is fascinating.

  7. I love this sketch Jean…….nice work……..and I LOVE morels……but unfortunately it’s probably been 20 years since I’ve had the pleasure of eating one! A delicacy for sure!

    • Hi Cynthia- I have a variety of poetry books and books on natural history and I often start there. I also often look online while I am researching my subject. I think it’s important to come to understand nature from a variety of viewpoints. It sometimes takes me quite awhile to find the right quote, poem or phrase that fits.

  8. I love this! Morels are hard to draw, I think. My husband’s family is obsessed with hunting morels. I just love to EAT them. Soak overnight in salted water in the refrigerator to drive out any tiny critters hiding in them. Cut in half lengthwise and rinse well. Dip in egg beaten with a little water. Roll in flour and fry in butter. Absolutely delicious!

    • Hunting morels seems like it would be a fun, competitive, secretive, and perhaps exasperating thing to do. You have probably listened to many a story of morel hunts. Thanks for the cooking tip!

  9. Great job simplifying that tricky subject! Those “tops” would have been a big challenge for me. Did you paint first & then accentuate with pen?

    • I couldn’t how best to tackle them. I thought it might be best to use pencil and watercolor, but then changed my mind when I realized that would take longer than I wanted to, so I went with ink first. I didn’t want the ink to overwhelm it though– so many little spaces– so once I had some of the larger and darker areas mapped out, I was able to approach the rest with watercolor. They certainly are trickier than a simple cap and stem mushroom, but some of the same principles apply– you’ve got to develop the values so that the form is dimensional.

  10. Awesome drawing! I found my feed of them last night, I’m going to cook them up tomorrow…I attempted a little watercolor last year…it actually popped up as a memory in my Facebook feed…a year to the exact day as I picked them last year.

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