Mushrooms, bridges, and classic cars

My dear friend Pam and I have an annual tradition of heading into the woods in late May to hunt for morels. Here’s the highlight reel of our spectacular success in 2011:

Pam and morel 1160108 BLOG

Morels and Pam 1160217 BLOG

But this spring has been strange in Minnesota, with heavy snow in late April and a cool, monsoon-like May. Everything has been out of sync — the birds arrived early, but the flowers bloomed late — so my dear friend Pam and I didn’t hold out much hope of finding the delicious (but famously elusive) mushrooms.

I’m not going to tell you where we went, because I’m sworn to secrecy. But I think it’s probably safe to divulge that our route took us down Highway 61 and across the old blue-gray truss bridge in Hastings.

Hastings bridge 1080410 FB

I felt a pang of sadness to think that I’ll never cross the old bridge again: Next week it will be demolished, and its replacement (at right, below) will spring into service.

Hastings bridge 1080395 FB

After lunch at another location I can’t disclose, we tromped into the woods in search of our quarry. It was slow going because of the invasive buckthorn, which has choked out the native understory.

Tanglewood 1080491 FB

Pam and I got separated a few times in the dense forest. Here she is, in all of her mushroom-hunting glory:

Pam in woods 1080460 FB

We took the blooming jack-in-the-pulpits as a good omen; they usually coincide with the morels.

Jack in pulpit 1080417 FB

We also saw a variety of other mushroom species — another encouraging sign. But alas, still no morels.

Fungi 1080467 FB

Fungus 1080497 FB

Tiny snail 1080489 FB

We split up to improve our hunting, and after a few minutes Pam called my name. Her whisper-shout sounded urgent. She had found our first morel!

Morel 1080447 FB

A few more followed, until we’d amassed maybe a dozen.

Morels 1080453 FB

Morel haul 1080484 FB

We strolled rather aimlessly for another hour but found no more. We did see a stand of pines that Pam planted as a kid, though — and also a charming little cabin that practically screamed, “Ya, you’re in Minnesota, you betcha!”

Pine stand 1080458 FB

Deer camp 1080506 FB

On our way home we stopped in Hastings for a stroll through its historic downtown. To our delight, today was even more historic than usual: We’d stumbled onto one of the city’s “classic car cruise-ins.” I’m not a big classic-car enthusiast, but I was smitten with the setting.

Hastings car show 1080530 FB

Hastings car show 1080546 FB

Studebaker 1080548 FB

Wood car 1080537 FB

And I was especially smitten by the detailing of the old cars. Every one of them was a testament to its owner’s care and passion.

Busted Nut 1080533 FB

Car show 1080525 FB

Chevrolet 1080514 FB

Grasshopper car 1080557 FB

So there it is … the chronicle of another successful morel hunt — and a splendid Saturday. Is it silly that I’m already looking forward to next year?

Thank you for a wonderful adventure, dear Pam.


  1. I’m so sad that the big truss bridge’s days are numbered. I don’t understand why these things can’t be restored, or twinned (i.e., build a new bridge alongside for traffic going one way, and use the old bridge for traffic going the other.)

    Your car shots are wonderful. I especially like the one you shot across that blue Buick’s flank. One thing about not knowing a subject intimately is that it frees you to see it not for what it is, but as a canvas for seeing shapes and forms. I love old cars and know them very well; it would have been harder for me to see the shot, for example, of the reflection in the Chevy wagon’s back window. I’d’ve been too busy looking at the wagon.

    • How nice to see your comment, Jim, because I actually thought of you as I was writing this post! Like you, I can’t understand why truss bridges can’t be restored — or even just reinforced. I’m sure the new bridge to Hastings will be lovely, but it won’t have the character of its predecessor. And thank you very much for your kind words about the car photos. I probably spent *too little* time admiring the cars themselves. I’m thinking I may need to go back for another look before the summer is over.

    • I forgot to mention one thing, Tom: Not a single tick! (That I spotted, anyway.) I was sure I was going to become a pincushion after all that time in the woods.

  2. what beautiful pictures. and i’m so glad you found the mushrooms-whose-name-can-not-be-spoken.

    • You’re so kind, Laurie; thank you. I just wish we’d found enough of those unmentionables to share the wealth! Even the ones we did snag were perhaps a bit past their prime. But as they say, it’s the journey that counts. Or something like that. 🙂

  3. What a privilege to have you for a friend! And there’s the added bonus joy of your photography gifts — watching you look at the world, for one thing, then seeing the results, for another. I am always trying to see more beauty and meaning in the world, and you and your photos make that easier for this myopic ol’ gal. Thanks! XOXO

    • Aw, Pam. I think it’s *me* who is privileged to have you for a friend! Thank you for your enormous patience as I stopped every three feet to shoot something. And thank you again for making such a wonderful adventure possible in the first place! It will be one of the highlights of 2013 for me.

    • Haaa haaaa, Xpat! I’m very impressed that you got not one, but TWO puns into a single sentence. And it’s good advice, too. Marvelous!!

  4. Thank you for taking us on your hunt with you, and I’m glad it was successful! I love this photo essay. The classic cars with that historic town backdrop are just gorgeous. I don’t consider myself a car aficionado at all, but there is something about reflections in gleaming chrome that makes my heart beat faster. 🙂

    • … and thank you for coming along, DB! You’re so right about all that gleaming chrome, by the way. Even as I cursed the American obsession with cars for ruining our environment and making us fat, I couldn’t help falling under the spell of the cars themselves. I left the with one overwhelming impression: Modern cars are so BORING! (Why don’t cars have beluga-like bumps on their hoods anymore? Or fins, for that matter?)

  5. I’ve been so busy the last few weeks, that I somehow missed a few of your posts. Am I pleased I scrolled back, cause I just love these photos. Especially the trees in the forest, the Studebaker car and the cars lined up. What fantastic photography!

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