"YOU know what mushroom hunting is!!!?"
I'll never forget the day, in my second year of college, that these words escaped my roommates mouth. Because up to that very moment, it had never occurred to me that there was a vast world of people out there who didn't know what mushroom hunting was.
For as long as I can remember, walking the forests just outside town, stooped over with squinted eyes, has been an annual summer tradition. I'll always be able to envision, clear as day, my great-Uncle Emilio and my grandmother, the quintessential little Italian lady, prodding at mounds of pine needles with their walking sticks, hoping to uncover the coveted boleta.
And I'll never shake that frantic excitement, characteristic of the kid in the candy store, as I watch my father adorning venison steaks with morels, freshly sautéed in butter and garlic.
But what gets me the most is the sheer exhilaration that almost consumes me as I discover the first mushroom of the season. From that moment on, every time I close my eyes, even if only for a second, all I see are glimpses of mushrooms. And it becomes a challenge almost, to discover whether I can find as many or more than the year before.
As life unfolds and the years go by, responsibilities change, and the freedoms we once enjoyed may no longer hold the same weight or priority in my day to day lives. But one thing is for certain: as a born-and-raised McCloudian, mushrooming is embedded in my soul, and will remain a timeless tradition for myself and my family every year to come.
They are out there, everybody. Let's get them!