Thursday, January 3, 2013

It was the first crisp morning of fall. The woods were colder than when I had been walking on the open road, and so I tilted my head to the sky when a ray of light would trickle down through the turning leaves, hoping that the sunshine would warm my slowly numbing nose. I had about two miles behind me off trail, and still no sign of chantrelles. I had found some earlier in the week closer to town, and now that I was in the highlands I was beginning to think it was too cold. Tired of climbing up and down the steep hills of Wilderness State Park, I began to follow a ridge to rest. 

I came across a thicket of green, where there was some soft moss for me to lay on my back and look up at the canopy. I needed to find these mushrooms, my friend had given me a hen (not without me having to assist in killing it) but never the less, now I needed to find the rest of the dish to feed me and my friends. I breathed slowly, inhaling all the dank, moist magic of these Northern Michigan woods I had grown up in. Now that I am older and have moved on to a less remote part of the country, I am painfully aware of the lack of peace I have. The moist, intoxicating breeze that would sweep across the fresh, pure water of Lake Michigan and then roll up and over the rich and fertile hills of those sprawling forest's is something I have never again felt touch my soul in quite the same way. 

After sufficient rest and rolled myself up and made my way over the ridge and down into the next ravine. It wasn't for another hour that I had lost hope and bent down to tie my boot before I was about to turn around and head back to the main road. Looking down at my muddy and tattered boot, without even moving my eyes, I could see yellow in my peripheral. My heart began to palpitate, just like when I would round the corner in jr. High and unexpectedly see Aaron Bayko, who I was desperately in love with. I turned my head and got down on all fours, they were small, but in perfect condition, I cut them with my knife and placed them in my paper sac. This spec of hope rekindled my initial motive and I kept moving, it was only a few feet before I came across the honey hole. More yellow feet than I had ever seen in one spot in these woods. Again plummeted to all fours and began picking furiously, trying to keep my blade steady as my hands shook. It was mid-week, but I would hate for another picker to come along and see me desperately picking mushrooms that I had no intention of sharing. 

When I was done I hurriedly hiked back to the main road, hopped in my truck, opened the now, slightly soiled sac and smelled its rich, briny, earthy beauty. I was the hero that night. Chicken, farm fresh vegetables, and pan roasted chantrelles all from my back yard. I was starving and sore from my day on the farm and in the woods and I could feel the energy of my food be absorbed into my body and nourish me. Most of my meals back in Michigan were like that. When I moved to Nashville, I wanted success, which I have gained. But without the woods, water and ingredients of Northern Michigan, I am lacking. I am half passion, half writer, half girl...and I dream of the day when I return to my beautiful and enchanting life and adventure of the North.