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Copyright 2012 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

Dog Hair & Mule Sweat

with Natalie Riehl

editor@rockymountainrider.com

 

June 2012 issue

 

      The spring has been all over the place… weather-wise. It reached 89 degrees last week, and two nights later plunged down to 22. The garden is sporting a large, luminescent-green collection of “Walls of Water” which are covering a dozen tomato plants and a whole buncha cucumbers. With the frosts, we’ve already lost two sets of strawberry blooms.

      I noticed that this year’s flowers, from daffodils to lilacs, have all bloomed early and were spent quickly. The lilacs at the office have a quarter of their blooms. If this is a trend, I hope it’s not forecasting an unusually hot and dry summer.

      The horses have slicked off beautifully, and as I was saddling last Sunday afternoon, I appreciated using the soft brushes over their bodies. Their early summer coats gleamed in the sun, richly deep in hue, before the sun bleaches them out. I ran my hand over their glistening necks and shoulders, marveling at their summer silkiness.

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      In our household, we have been hosting Maurice Morelli, hunter of the wily wild mushroom known to appear in the early summers in formerly forested areas which burned last summer.

      Each spring, Maurice is driven by a mysterious force which powerfully overtakes him. He obtains his Forest Service permit and the USFS, in turn, gives him a bad photocopy of a map of the assigned picking areas.

      As the season has been warming up, he’s been off scouting conditions in the two big burns. Naturally, one burn is closer, but the road is much rougher; while the other burn, which is vast and covers numerous square miles, is much farther away, but the road is smoother. The driving time to get to either one is about the same. The first outings have revealed good potential, but powder-dry conditions.

      Yesterday’s hunt, which yielded the first handful of the year, left Mr. Morelli anxious to head out again. This morning, with a light rain falling, he announced first thing that he was off to the gold fields.

      He’s been meeting some other hunters on the Forest Service roads, and when he’s asked them what they’re up to, they usually respond, “Oh, not much. Just driving around.” And they are seen to pull a jacket over their badly-photocopied maps.

      Mr. Morelli will just come outright and tell them, “I’m looking for morels!”

      They perk right up and admit that they, too, are looking for morels. “Have you seen any?” they ask.

      In the tight-lipped manner of morel enthusiasts, I do not believe any of them actually ever gives anyone any pertinent details!

      When it comes to eating morels, there are two types of people: those who like them and those who do not. (Yes, it’s like liver! People love it or hate it. Many who hate it were forced to eat it as kids. I was such a kid… and turned into a liver-hating adult. Except for Braunschweiger now and then.)

      We rarely find people who like eating morels, but we do! They are great sautéed in butter and topping a rib steak. We use them in spaghetti sauces and meatloafs.

            They are best when dehydrated, and last a long time in the cupboard. We soak them in water for 20 minutes, and they “come back to life.” They look and smell like they were just picked…pungent, rich and full of primitive earthiness!

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Copyright 2012 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

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