Kenny's Korner- Mothers and Morels

by Kenny Rader

Never taking notice

The small farm where I grew up in Hancock County had three small fields, two small areas of woods, and one small creek running through the woods. All three of those areas made for many boyhood adventures. It didn't matter the season; I loved the outdoors: fishing in the creek, cutting trails through the woods, exploring the fields, trapping muskrats and raccoons, hunting rabbits and groundhogs, plus protecting Dad's range chickens (hundreds of chickens raised in the fields) from hawks and owls. I lived and experienced the perfect outdoor childhood for a boy on a small farm in northwestern Ohio. Winter, spring, summer, and fall, I always found something to explore in God’s outdoor wonderland. But it wasn't until I married that I learned to take notice of something on the floor of the woods, more unique and impressive than the magic of Disney Land: morel mushrooms.

Mothers and Morels

So, why the title Mothers and Morels? Because around Mother's Day, we always began intense hunting for morel mushrooms in the woods. While usually busy farming in early May, we anxiously awaited a good rain to chase us out of the fields so we could hunt morels.  

Let’s back up a bit

I've still not mastered the art of mushroom hunting as an adult. Yes, it's an art or at least a learned ability. But after learning of the arrival of those springtime wonders, I never mastered the ability to find them. To an untrained eye, they’re challenging to see.  Martha was the expert, and I often hunted with her, but I was so blind to finding the morels, that we could walk side-by-side, and she’d often yell at me to stop walking, almost like a drill sergeant commanding his squadron, “Halt!” While her dull-sighted husband couldn't see any morels, she quickly spotted them, and once she pointed them out to that half-blind guy (me), he realized they were all around us. Maybe it was her experience of an intensely focused mind that made the difference. 


My problem?  Maybe it was my love of the outdoors and nature. My mind wants to focus on nature itself; you know, the birds flying from tree to tree and their songs, the new growth of leaves on the trees and the undergrowth, and the fresh spring smell of the woods. When entering the woods in the springtime, it’s like walking into paradise; yes, it's even better than visiting Disneyland, and the woods doesn't cost either. But constantly looking at the woods floor makes my eyeballs feel like they’re getting sucked out of their sockets.  

Back to Mothers and Morels

The enjoyment and memories of mushroom hunting with Martha were exponentially compounded by the many joys experienced in the woods. First, Martha and I always spent lots of time together, and we loved each other’s company, but in the woods mushroom hunting, she’d kick me out of her range of mushroom search. Why? Because someone (guess who) often stepped on the morels before she pointed them out. I could never see the morels until she pointed them out, and then they seemed mysteriously to appear before my eyes. Once she found a patch, we worked together, cleaning out all the mushrooms in sight until the patch was clean. 


The second joy of Mothers and Morels was the springtime woods experience. The beauty of new growth and the freshness of the air only comes once a year. Miss it, and you have to wait another year before it comes again. Plus, in the warming freshness of the springtime, you can enjoy the woods free of mosquitoes – a fact you can only appreciate if you enter the woods a few weeks later. Also, poison ivy is not usually a problem in early May. I stress the word: usually. Poison ivy is always a problem for those of us allergic to the oil on the plant’s leaves.

The bonus of Mothers & Morels

The third joy of Mothers and Morels is that it's the season we honor our mothers. Mushroom hunting was only one aspect of spending time with Martha. My mom never hunted mushrooms, but Mother's Day was when I could see her through rose-colored glasses (Maybe I should say that I could love her as God loved her). Mom was sometimes – well, cantankerous (unfortunately, a characteristic I learned too well from her), but at Mother’s Day, we overlooked the argumentative nature of Mom. Mother’s Day helps us look for the pleasant attributes of our moms and gives us a season to overlook faults – just as moms often overlook the faults of their children.


To those who have a special relationship with your mom, say a special prayer of thanksgiving to God. And for those of us who often remember the troubled times more than the fun, the distance of time seems to help fade those sour memories. God’s forgiveness, love, mercy, and grace also help. Realizing God's patience with us provides an avenue of love and forgiveness we can give to our mothers. God's mercy and grace toward us help us pass it on to our moms.  

Age has its benefits

Although I seldom hunt mushrooms anymore, and my wife, mom, and mother-in-law have passed, Mother's Day still provides a time of memories of Mothers and Morels. They are good memories, and those memories grow dearer with each passing year.


If your mom is still living, I pray you take time to spend with her this Mother’s Day season. Sure, our lives are busy, and you cannot always visit your mom on Mother’s Day, but you can still cut a patch of time out of your busy schedule to spend with her, whether in May or sometime in the spring. Whether a star mom or one that needs forgiveness and grace, this is the season for Mother and Morels. 


So, who is your mom? How can you love her, or what are some memories you can cherish? What "morels" have made memories with your mom or wife? Maybe they’re memories of cooking with her, gardening, yard work, sewing, or whatever. Perhaps she's a soccer mom or your uber driver. Who is she, and what are your memories that make her special?


This year, I hope and pray you make her day special. For without her, you wouldn’t be here.   


Happy Mother's Day both to moms and mother-like moms.


Love you & God Bless,