Does anyone know what morels are?
It is said when our grandfathers, the Thunders, are first heard in the spring, they are awakening all things here on earth from the cold winter months.
That is when all nature’s vegetation and plant life start to flourish, and also when my family would start to look for a very particular fungus every year.
I remember my grandma Dollie would say, “let’s go look for the (oh-nah-gah-lount-dah)”, which is how you say morels in Mohawk. We would all grab a bag, and then the hunt was on. They were only out for a few weeks. We would all walk around in the bush, usually about the same time as asparagus comes out, checking the spots where we knew they grew.
There are all different sizes; anywhere from one to four inches long. Mind you, I did come across some that where beyond five inches — but not too often. Along with the different sizes, morels come in different colours and shades. There is plain brown, light brown, dark brown, white brown, and dark dark brown. So dark in fact that they have a tinge of black in them. They are often called the “black ones” and are the first ones to come out when the temperature drops at night and the coldness of the air gives them a black tinge.
The old people use to say that when you find one to take note of which way it is pointing. The way it is pointing tells you there’s more in that direction and you have to be very quiet when looking for them. If the morels hear you, they will go back in the ground until they think the coast is clear and come back out. That’s why when a person ends up finding one where you had already been looking, they shout out, “I found one over here”, then the other person would say, “Heck I was just over there”.
Years ago the old people all knew what (oh-nah-gah-lount-dah) were, and their eyes would light up when we would get home with a grocery bag full of them and give them some as a gift to enjoy eating.
Belonging to the mushroom family, you cut them in halves the long way and can either fry them in butter as most people do or, make a soup that is sorta like cream of mushroom. But, if you ask me they taste better then mushrooms – as would anyone who tries them would also agree.
I still go look for them today along with some of my aunts and uncles, but it seems they don’t grow like how they use to. Before when we would find one there would be like five or six more growing just a few inches apart – now it’s like you find one or two and that’s it!
Either way, just the fact of finding a couple takes me back to memories of my grandma Dollie and all the old people who have since past, and it compels me to once again go on the hunt for the (oh-nah-gah-lount-dah).
I gave thanks to all those who were around who spoke Mohawk first and English second and taught me a great amount of things the way it used to be in the days of old.
Truly grateful, Rope Loft