I have hinted—if not outright whined—about the severity of the past winter here in the upper Midwest (an event so windy, frigid and interminable it reminded me of a certain English professor I had back in my college days).

But it is without doubt spring now, and the most certain proof has not been the influx of songbirds or the gobbling of turkeys, but the appearance of morel mushrooms. Robins can be fooled into early migration, and toms will breed hens in a snowstorm, but when mushrooms start popping, it is by-God-spring. It takes moisture, daylight and heat to make these babies grow, and once they start coming, summer is only a few weeks away.

Though I have yet to find my first fungi of 08, friends are starting to send pictures and brag of gorging themselves (see photo, below). I look forward to the first meal of the year and, more importantly, teaching my kids the joy of hunting morels. Do these tasty, easy-to-identify mushrooms grow in your hunting area? If not, are there other varieties you gather, now or in the fall? Let me know!