It’s Mother’s Day when I finally arrive in Benzie County and I have nothing but a handful of leeks to show for it. Every forest I’ve stepped into has been bone dry, save for Waterloo at the southern end of the state. Hunting what the DNR labeled a small 2015 burn, but which was barely charred in comparison to what I’ve hunted in Washington, I found two verpa. I don’t eat verpa. Sure, you can boil them until the toxins fall out, they say, but I have no interest in trying. Still, I cut them anyway. I want to know if these are the mushrooms that make my family sick. I want to know in part because I really don’t want this to happen to me. I’m hoping the family has picked the wrong mushrooms, although given that first my uncle—my mother’s brother—then my mother and now even my brother are all “allergic” to morels, I have to assume it isn’t the result of poor choices. Fingers crossed I’m genetically more Case than Herman.
For three days I work mornings from my parents home and forage in the afternoons, but it’s bone dry here, too. The only thing I find — and these I find in a wild profusion — are leeks. They are everywhere, and most of all, they are everywhere around my parents house. So, on Wednesday afternoon I kneel in the woods behind the house and pull leek after leek out of the woods. That night, I sautee them hot in a pan and serve them in a gorgeous asparagus, spring pea, and wild leek salad.
Speaking of asparagus: Morels may not be on yet, but asparagus appears to be. I’m coming back in a few days and plan to add that to my hunting list. I’ll find morels and asparagus yet.