The sun was bright, but not too hot. Deladis ran around my step-dad (Wiley) as he worked cutting brush. I put Ivy in the mei-tai and decided to go hunt the last of the dry land fish (morels). I thought I’d hunt behind Wiley’s kennels for his coon dogs. I started across the bridge and Wiley told me to wait. We’d go hunt them where the neighbors found a big mess.
We loaded the girls into his Suzuki Samurai and headed up the holler. Wiley took the Samurai up the steepest incline to get to the top of the mountain. That vehicle took it like a mule. The girls laughed. They said “weee”. We were all smiling.
At the top of the mountain, Wiley parked the Samurai and we all got out. I was taken by the beauty of the spring mountain. I had never made it that far up the holler hiking as a kid, so it was my first time seeing this view. My old hillside hangout has been dug out and is now someone’s front yard. This mountain was vastly larger.
Flowers of varying hues of purple, yellow, and white dotted the earth. They stuck out around the fallen trees and dry leaves left by weather and winter, making a glorious display of life. The subtle richness was unique to my eyes. It humbled me as the Kentucky mountains always seem to do.
We started up the steep hillside. Again, I put Ivy in the mei-tai. Wiley helped Deladis. I had no idea how to go about looking for morels. I wanted to eat them. I looked around decaying logs. In moist spots. We only found three. Wiley called the neighbor who came up the hill on a 4-wheeler (ATV) to show us the best spot.
By the time we got to the best spot, Deladis was tired and crying. Being physical is hard for her and not her first choice of activity. Ivy was cooing on my back. I think she’d have stayed there all day. Deladis finally gave up crying for a nest in the leaves and dirt. She sat sucking her thumb while we looked around her. We searched a while longer finding three more. Deciding that was enough for a taste, we headed down the hillside to the Samurai.
As we scooted through muck and dry leaves, we spotted a low flying helicopter. It flew in the valley below where we were on the mountain. Already, they are seeking out marijuana growers. Deladis started crying again because she couldn’t see the bright blue of the helicopter through the trees. It was gone before she caught a glimpse. We made it to the Samurai and took it off the hill.
Back at Mom’s, we saw the first snake of the warm seasons. A garter snake, as spry as a young pup. Deladis loved watching it crawl behind my mother’s hastas. She loves animals so much. Soon, I will have to teach her how to identify snakes. She needs to know a copperhead when she sees one as she plays around our cabin. Water moccasins too. Be still. Don’t run. Simply back up for a distance and walk away. A snake is more scared of you than you are of it.
After getting the girls some lunch, I prepared to fry the dry land fish for my own lunch. I rinsed the dirt from the six we found and let them drain on a paper towel. I heated two tablespoons of bacon fat in a small skillet on high heat. I wallowed the morels in one egg, and then in a mixture of organic medium grind Bob’s Red Mill cornmeal, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I fried them until golden and ate while warm. Absolutely delicious! They made a fabulous lunch and were so much better than any mushroom you can buy from a store in texture and flavor.
A lovely afternoon. Watching my step-dad be a Poppa to my girls. Seeing them all smile. Spending a few hours in the mountains of my childhood home. Eating traditional Appalachian food. A blessed afternoon.