A Magical Mother’s Day Morning In May That Ends With A Morel Or Two
I awoke early on Sunday. I had a busy morning planned. My Facebook page reminded me it was Mother’s Day. I shared a post and this photos of my mom as a child. She didn’t know her mom long, she died when she was ten, not long after this photo was taken.
This is mom years later. That ugly baby is me. My mom passed away four years ago in August. Early on Mother’s Day I visited her grave and reflected on the life she gave , and shared, with me. I then drove to the Susquehanna Wetlands for my usual weekly hike. On the drive I reminisced on mom and the many Mother’s Day I spent with her. Good memories they were.
It was a beautiful May morning when I arrived at the wetlands. It was a cool morning. The temperature was 42 degrees. There were some high clouds in the east but they soon dissipated, and the sun shone brilliantly for the rest of my hike. I stopped at the pond along the access road and found it flooded form the two days of rain we just had.
The rain storm did more than just flood the wetlands. Driving into the wetlands parking lot I discovered that this old dead tree had fallen across the road. I thought I could remove it but it was not rotted and still solid. It will have to be sawed and removed. I drove back to the entrance and parked there.
Leaving my Jeep and walking into the wetlands I immediately knew that many song birds returned to our area. The wetlands were filled with the sound of the singing birds. It was like a concert with with my favorite music being performed. I heard yellow warblers, American robins, vireos, gray catbirds, song sparrows and many others. I was able to photograph a few such as this American redstart. These birds winter in southern Florida, the Caribbean and South America. It is amazing this bird could have been in Brazil a few months ago.
an American goldfinch, these birds are year long residents in our area but the males become a bright yellow in the Spring and do a lot more singing to attract a mate, and
this song sparrow. These birds are also year long residents in our area.
I wish I had more time to try and capture more photos of the many birds now migrating through our area but I had other plans later in the morning, I was going to search for the elusive morel mushrooms with some friends. So , I had to cut short and rush my usual five mile hike. I walked down to the Susquehanna River which was swollen with waters from the recent rains.
The rains also left the trails in the wetlands flooded. This was the trail that leads into the wetlands. There was no way around it. As I waded through I found it was higher then my boot tops and soon had very wet and cold feet.
It was 10 days since I was last here and the wetlands had transformed in a magical garden of green. And, it was filled with the songs of the many newly arrived song birds. I also heard a number of woods ducks, but they weren’t on the water, they were in the treetops where they nest in hollow cavities. One was right above my head but flew off before I could get a photos. It would have been a beautiful photo too.
There was so much new growth since my last visit. Everything looked and felt so alive. There were no signs of these ostrich ferns on my last visit.
Sensitive ferns had also appeared.
mandrakes or map apples continued their lush and rapid growth.
Many species of violets were blooming all throughout the wetlands, including these marsh blue violets.
Azure bluets also were growing in patches along the trail.
And the pretty and delicate pink azalea, or, as my dad called them “honeysuckle” where stating to bloom. This was one of my dad’s favorite flowers and it was one he would take us into the woods looking for every Spring. As is often the case, as I was taking a photo of the “honeysuckles” I heard a rapping over my head. I looked up and saw a spectacular pileated woodpecker. It looked down at me and flew off before I could get a photo. Another great photo lost But this happens on all of my walks. I wish I could have share it’s beauty but I was glad to have seen it.
Another remarkable sight on this magical May morning were the many solitary sandpipers that were fluttering around the canals and ponds in the wetlands.
I may have seen two dozen of them perched on logs or wading in the waters of the canal. I think they have to be migrating in a large flock since I don’t think the wetlands can support this many of these birds.
I walked quickly along the trails in the wetlands. The brilliant sunshine, blue skies, and lush new green growth made the wetlands feel enchanted.
The ponds reflected the deep blue skies.
And the air was filled with bird song. I saw a lot of birds fluttering in the tree tops, yellow throated warblers, hermit thrushes , red-eyed vireos but I didn’t have the time to wait and try and photograph them. I did see, and get some photos of these pretty yellow warbler.
And it is always easy to photograph one of the many Canada geese I saw, or.
the many red-winged blackbirds that were so noisy in the reeds in the wetlands. This is a male,
It was getting late, I needed to be back to the parking lot by around 8;3o to allow me time to meet my friends for our morel mushroom hunt. I wasn’t able to take my usual hike to Lake Took-A-While. I began my hike back. and saw a few turtles emerge from the waters and enjoy the rays of the storm May sun.
I decided to take the trail along the river this week so as not to have to wade through the cold puddles on the other trail. It was a beautiful morning to be in the woods.
I was able to photograph one more bird on my hike , the eastern phoebe that has a nest near the parking lot. It was a beautiful walk and a magical Mother’s Day morning in the wetlands. I enjoyed my hike but was I was now looking forward to my search for the elusive morel mushrooms. I have been searching for these mushrooms for many years with no success. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my magical Mother’s Day hike in the wetlands. Susquehanna wetlands May 7 2022.
I left the wetlands to meet my friends, Carla and her husband Ed at 9 a.m. I will not say where I drove but it was within 20 miles and a 1/2 hour radius of the wetlands. We mushroom hunters, or “shroomers” don’t reveal our spots. And this one wasn’t even mine. They were so kind to show me one of their spots . I have been looking for these sought after mushrooms for years and haven’t found any.
I met Carla and Ed and they soon had me crawling through some thick woodlands, showing me what an elm tree looked like and where they have found morel mushrooms. in the past. They have been very successful each Spring. Soon Carla was telling me to look on the as I was walking through the brush. I did and didn’t see anything. She prodded me to look closer. This reminded me of my dad who would do to this me when I was a child. He taught me and my siblings how to identify and find aspen scaber bolete or “red top” mushrooms. He would tell me and my siblings to” keep your eyes peeled” when he saw an edible mushroom and encourage us to find it. Carla did this to me and continued to encourage me to look for the hidden morel. I did and I finally spotted it. My first morel mushroom.
I was excited. It was so hard to see in the leaf litter.
We then walked for 3 1/2 miles in the beautiful May sunshine. Carla, with her eagle eyes, was an expert at finding these hard to see mushrooms. . Ed was good too. They pointed me toward them. They are so hard to see on the forest floor. I stepped on one and sat next to others without seeing them.
I finally got a feeling of how to spot them and I found a few on my own. Ed an Carla were disappointed that we didn’t find more but I was very satisfied with my haul. They let me keep almost all of the morels we found. It was a great learning experience and a fun hike. I hope I was a good student. I will find out when I look for them on my own this week. It was a great hike, with great conversations about our love of the woods. I thanked them for this amazing and generous gift of knowledge on these elusive mushrooms.
I drove home and later that day I prepared some of the morels by frying them in a high heat in olive oil, seasoning them only with salt and pepper, and adding some butter at the end of the cooking process. They were absolutely amazingly delicious. I now know why folks look so hard for them.
I hope to find many more morels in the future and will always thank these two great friends for sharing their knowledge with me. The hike in the wetlands and my morel hunt will make this a Mother’s Day I will always remember. And I know my mom, and her husband, my dad, where there with me.
“The world’s favorite season is the spring. All things seem possible in May.” Edwin Way Teale