Morel Mushroom

It’s April, and I’m excited for morel hunting this year! Here are eleven life lessons I’ve learned over my eleven years hunting morel mushrooms.


Although I am excited about the coming of spring, the one thing I dread about the end of winter is tick season. I am in the woods a lot: looking for mushrooms, harvesting wild edibles, bird watching. If I have time to spare, I’m outside.

Ticks — and Lyme’s disease — have become a real problem in Western PA, the United States in general, and in many areas of the world. Even though it has reached nearly epidemic levels, it is still underdiagnosed and not always treated immediately. …


You’ve heard it before: Declutter! Minimize! If it doesn’t bring you joy get rid of it!

But will getting rid of clutter actually bring you joy? If so, how?

There are physical benefits to having less clutter, like having less mess to see and deal with. Messes can be draining on your psyche and physical energy. There are esoteric effects: making physical space in your life will open up space for things you love. But let’s look in terms of the Five Element Theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine to see if that sheds any light.

The ancient Chinese derived their…


I’m thinking about trees, and foraging food from trees, and the owls living in hollow trees, the mushrooms growing on trees, the raccoons sleeping on top of trees, and how much I love trees. But mainly I was thinking about the food…

The first food of the year that I enjoy from trees is coming up: maple sap. Even before the first day of spring the maple trees wake up, the sap flows from the roots up to the top branches and the buds come out, then the flowers, then the seeds fall off, twirling in the wind, The leaves…


A conversation between me — a single (widowed) mom — and my teenage daughter, at the dining table, on a snowy day.

My teenage daughter was having lunch; she had made herself a kale salad. I had just eaten a lunch-like breakfast of leftover brown rice and vegetable korma, homemade from the day before, with a freshly cooked dosa. I sat with her, drinking my decaf chai. She didn’t want me to sit with her, as I wasn’t eating. But I pointed out at least I wasn’t chewing, which often annoys her. Because I was sitting with her, she had…


Ginkgo Fruit (image via Pixabay)

2020 was not an easy year. Everything shut down all over the world. Travel plans were canceled, people were isolated, many people had friends and loved ones get sick and die. It was (and still is in a lot of ways), a terrifying time. It’s hard to look back and find the highlights in such a bleak year, and yet they are there. Maybe they stand out a bit brighter from the bleak background, and maybe it takes less for something to be a highlight, but there are shimmers and glimmers nonetheless. …


It’s autumn and Pennsylvania — where I live — has just come out with a new list of restrictions to try to keep us safe during this pandemic. I expect it’s the same wherever you are; America is not doing too well these days. In my county, we are currently back to lockdown-like conditions: we are only supposed to leave the house for school, work, medical care, grocery shopping, and exercise. So after dropping my daughter off at school in the morning, I have been stopping by one of two parks between her school and home and taking a walk.


In 2016 and 2017, I was lucky enough to receive writing residencies, to a wonderful place in the Appalachian Mountains. I won’t say exactly which place it was, just in case they don’t appreciate the story I have to tell. I don’t think they’ll mind, and all of it is true, but still. A little bit of mystery never hurt.

In 2016, I stayed in a bright new modern cabin called Daisy (not its real name). It was wooden and wonderful: open, bright, clean. …


Edible Morel Mushrooms

Mushrooms are an interesting entity: neither plant nor animal, fungi are their own kingdom and upon close examination have more in common with animals than plants. Their cell walls contain chitin, found in shells of crabs and exoskeletons of insects but absent from plants. Plants make their own food but like animals fungi digest their food with enzymes they produce. Fungi also take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide like animals, while plants do the reverse.

Nevertheless, as a vegetarian I am comfortable eating mushrooms and wild mushrooms are a culinary delight — a feast for the forager — if…


Morel Mushroom

Walking through the woods today I saw garlic mustard beginning to bolt, not yet flowering. May apples were poking up through the ground: umbrellas in all stages of opening. Trillium were budding. I was looking for morels but I found none; it was too early. Though surely there must have been some up: the early black ones, gray ones, half-frees…yet I didn’t see a single one.

I picked a tick off my sock.

Trees were down everywhere I wandered, blocking trails. Bark was sloughed off in heaps. These woods have been dying, which is why the morels have been so…

Melissa Sokulski

Melissa Sokulski lives in Pittsburgh, PA. When not at her computer, she can be found roaming the woods in search of wild edible plants and mushrooms.

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