St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Deet T's

"Shall I take the nice large Mayo Clinic plastic bag?" I thought to myself as I prepared to head out for the woods for another morel mushroom hunt.

"Too presumptious, and such a nice throw away bag, better save it for something special."  Digging out two of the thin plastic Wal-mart bags, I stuffed them in my pockets as if I had just forgotten them from a trip to town.

Half of today's morels

Other half found today
"You gotta sneak up on those morels--if you go to the woods too well prepared you are sure to get skunked" was the advice I got from Dad back when I first started the hunt.  

Well,  I tucked my pantlegs into the thick wool socks I thought I needed this morning when I woke to 45 degrees in the cabin.  Then tucked my tee-shirt and sweat shirt into my pants and sprayed the pant legs with DEET --the bug spray to discourage wood ticks from crawling all the way up my tucked in clothes to my neck.

Not sure if it is the DEET or maybe a bad mushroom, but lately I have been dreaming of ticks crawling all over me.  Sort of like when Uncle Alvin was hitting the bottle too much and got the DT's, I wonder if this might be the DEET T's?   When you come in from the woods and pick off  the big regular ticks and the tiny bear ticks, all in a life struggle to climb the precipitous belt overhang to the pinnacle of the hairline and suck enough blood to lay eggs, the rest of the day you are sure there are ticks crawling under your pants, into the underwear, up the leg and on the back of the neck or into the beard.   Most of the time it is a false alarm, but even after I go to bed, these virtual ticks annoy me.  There are just enough real ones so every imagined crawler has to be checked out. 
Made what will be my last foray into the woods looking for morels.  Got enough altogether to claim this as even better than last year, and they are starting to be somewhat over-the-hill; some already broken off; some with spots of decay; slugs here and there and ants starting to hole them.  

  Was rewarded by the most yet--80 nice sized ones!   Found about half in the same place I found the others and the other half in the south woods in deep prickly ash thickets.  Filled one bag with a couple pounds and left it as I crossed the road and struggled through the prickly ash to the dead elms back in this woods.  

Both sites were south slopes in the edge of the woods near elms that died in the past year or two.  They were thick on the ground both places, probaby areas no more than 20x20 feet.  

Filling the fragile Wal-mart bag scraping through the prickly ash, hands dripping blood from scratches (proof my blood thinning aspirin a day is working), I stopped to reconnoiter and noticed the bag felt lighter than it should.  

The prickly ash had snagged it and torn a hole, so I spent the next 10 minutes backtracking the trail of morels feeling like Hansel and Grettel, lost in the deep dark brushy woods where I had struggled over downed dead elm limbs, brush and tender but potent nettles.  

Satisfied that I had all the obvious ones and wanting to leave some for spore spread, I headed for the open trail I mow into the woods.  The old cow pasture is growing in with brush--so all the open areas are ringed with prickly ash for 15 feet to scratch your way through out.   Just as I got out, the walking stick broke--I alway pick up a small dead branch for a stick to help poke around the foliage looking for mushrooms and to stablize my stumbles through the woods with my new knee--which although it is pretty darn good, I didn't quite get it bending the full 90 yet, and I tumbled down into the briar patch.

  I managed to hold the morels high and they were saved, but getting up in the prickly ash and back walking took a few minutes.   Finally I just grabbed onto a prickly ash bush, thorns and all and pulled myself out.  

The old timers thought a little blood letting was good for health, so I am probably in pretty good shape for a few days now.  

Soaking the morels so the critters can extricate themselves and will then freeze them for the winter ahead. 

Margo celebrates her birthday on June 3rd!  After her radiation treatment on that day, and a trip to McDonalds where she will get anything she wants off the dollar menu, she will only have 5 more days of radiation.  Then a week of tests and the port out and it is all done.  The radiation has been reasonable, although she is tired and needs a month or two to rest up.  She isn't coming to the cabin right away, but headed to visit her relatives as well as a stay with a friend for a week.   For some reason, she thinks that if she comes up to the cabin I might put her to work right away.  Nothing farther from the truth! Just a little hoeing, a little wood piling, some house cleaning, and maybe painting is all I have in mind.  

Gotta quit now--darned ticks crawling all over me again.  

Us with Scott, probably a year or two ago.