JIM CREES: Learning about life, and morels

With the GOP roster of presidential hopefuls growing by leaps and bounds each week, some regular readers are probably expecting me to write about Lindsey Graham or Carly Fiorina.


There are more important things going on throughout the area, such as ... life ... and morels.

Look. Fact is, you can find a Republican candidate for president a lot easier than you can find morels.

Over the weekend, we found some good ones — morels that is, not candidates.

Not me. I didn’t find them, (although not for lack of looking.)

In the newspaper business we, generally speaking, don’t write about our own families. So, I won’t.

I will note, however, that most weekends we have a four-year-old ... um ... boarder ... who squats with his ... um ... somewhat mother-like companion in our home and generally tears the place to shreds before retiring to Grand Rapids for another week of pre-school.

This young tenant also takes me for expeditions into the Dark, Dark Woods behind our house where we discover all sort of things which have a LOT to do with life.

The wooded area is divided into sections - The Dark, Dark Woods, The Dip, The Pines and The Prairie. There’s a lot going on in what is actually quite a small chunk of land.

There is a path through the woods on which anyone can stroll. BUT ... if you want to leave the path, you must be a member of the Dark, Dark Woods Explorers Club. Without a signed membership card, you need to stay on the path. Card-carrying membership is limited and quite exclusive, although the club president is very accepting and accommodating.

With membership, one can visit Troll Mound, Skunk Rock, and sit in a small, hidden clearing watching geese land in Farmer Anger’s field.

This past weekend, an expedition was mounted to find a trillium for Mama (our boarder’s companion.)

We found lots of deer poop and pondered the question — Why is some poop kinda clumped up, and some poop is the more obvious pellets?

We found some coyote poop.

We also found what we think is skunk poop.

There is a lot of poop in the woods ... and in life!

We found a lot of chipping caused by one, or possibly two, pileated woodpeckers who seem to live in the Dark, Dark Woods.

We found lots of newly sprouted plants, including one trillium.

There is all kinds of stuff to find and all sort of lessons to be learned in the Dark, Dark Woods.

While slogging around in the mud down in The Dip, we learned (later on) some people are more concerned about getting muddy in this life than are others.

The boarder and I discuss a lot of things while wandering in the woods.

We learn how important it is to get off the path if you really want to see the good stuff.

We learn if you are quiet, you can hear almost as much as you can see.

We learn you often step in some poop if you leave the path, but that’s OK too.

We learn the farther you get away from home, the more fun it is to finally get there when you return.

We learn that slivers happen; nettles sting; when you stumble, you often fall; sharp things poke; and rocks that are a little too heavy often fall on your toes.

There are a lot of important lessons to be learned in the Dark, Dark Woods, but they can only be learned if you go there.

And there are some real cool discoveries to be made as well.

This past weekend, the boarder came bounding out of The Prairie shouting, “Look what I found!”

In his hands were a bunch of the biggest morels I’ve seen ...ever!

And there were more.

So, we wandered about collecting a veritable wealth of delectable mushrooms which ended up a delicious addition to the morning’s scrambled eggs, the afternoon’s pasta with fresh-picked chives, and the evening’s meal as well.

If you open your eyes and pay attention to what’s going on around you, there are a lot of literal and figurative morels to be picked.

You don’t need to go too far afield. It’s amazing what you can find in your backyard, especially when you have a four-year-old guiding you with his “leader stick” firmly in hand pointing the way.