Randa and I hiked in Bluff Woods (northeast Missouri) yesterday. There are some pretty steep slopes in them thar hills and we spent a while scouring them for morel mushrooms. Although the temperatures have been ideal, we have had less than half the usual rainfall for the month of April. Thunderstorms brought highly localized heavy rains but the terrain we traipsed over appeared to have missed out on those. Even when I scratched down through loosely packed leaves, the ground was dry. Not great conditions for an abundance of late season morels.
I remembered Mark Twain’s claim that “Golf is a good walk, ruined,” and wondered if he might feel the same about hunting morel mushrooms. However, in a similar way that one good shot turns a bad day of golf into a good day, finding a single six-inch tall morel takes away most of the sting of disappointment.
On the other hand, walking amidst the native hardwoods, seeing the white blossoms of Mayapples and the blue clusters of Sweet Williams, following the flitting of a white-and-blue swallowtail butterfly, hearing the twittering of unseen birds, and spotting the occasional snail easing its way across the ground cover is reason enough to hike the woods. Add in the beauty of an upland stream gently working its way across worn stones, and the feel of fresh air, and you’ve got plenty of reason to spend an hour or two reminding those leg muscles what they’re capable of.
There have been too many times when I’ve allowed my walks in this world to be ruined by my own imposed goals and contrived expectations. Some of the most interesting and stimulating conversations I’ve ever had were job interviews where the committees ended up selecting other candidates. We always have the option of valuing the experiences above our disappointment with the outcome.
And, by the way, coming out alive and in good shape, with good memories to boot, is a pretty good outcome.