Spring means morels, and morels mean the return of hiking. We’d both had sort of an intense week, so when yesterday dawned cool and sort of rainy after a week of unseasonable and unwelcome temps in the high 80s, Himself suggested we go out in the afternoon and look for morels.
Now I haven’t quite hit the big half century mark, but I’m getting close enough that one notices certain changes during an afternoon in the woods. For one thing, there’s the vision issue. I’ve gotten into the habit of wearing my bifocals most of the time (since most of what I do is read and write). They’re fine for that. What they’re not so fine for is trying to see your footing when, say, crossing a boggy little creek. Forgetting to swap out into one’s progressives can, for instance, result in tripping while crossing the boggy little creek while not able to actually see your feet and falling flat on your face in 6 inches of mud, algae, moss and muck. (However, when you shout in frustration at your hiking companion that yes you’re pissed because you can’t f*cking SEE you do take care of some of the bear danger.)
On the other hand, it was a cool wet day, and the browse was all wet anyhow, and we don’t hike on the trail, so there’s a certain relaxation to having gotten wet. Once you’re wet, you don’t have to worry about that anymore. And it wasn’t cold. So, wet feet, wet to the elbows, wet and muddy to the knees, I was set for the rest of what was a really pleasant afternoon.
The other issue I’m discovering is what I call my “Frankenstein ankles.” I’ve always had bad ankles. I’ve twisted my ankles so many times over the years that I doubt there are any tendons at all in there. I am a champ at twisting an ankle, doing the “fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck” dance for five minutes or so, then pretty much carrying on. However, the last year or so, the floppy ankles have decided to rebel. They sort of just stop bending. There’s a weird angle (say, when one is hiking up or side hill) where they fight back. Its very odd. Disconcerting more than anything else, but a sign, I guess, that although I feel 15 most of the time, I guess I’m not. But as my 101 year old grandmother says “just don’t stop doing things,” so I’ll keep stumping blindly around in the woods as long as I’m able.
It was a great afternoon. We followed game trails. We saw a lot of moose and bear sign. Found a few mushrooms and wondered, as always, why they only seemed to grow in that one spot when that spot didn’t look significantly different than the entire rest of the forest we wandered through. We got wet, and muddy, and bushwacked through deadfall and climbed out of the creek bottom when it went into a little canyon and walked through lovely open glades of lichen-covered pine up high.
And then I stumped back to the car on my Frankenstein ankles, and we came home, had a beer and a yummy dinner of pork chops with morels.