Sunday, April 17, 2016

Dear Larry… “Where Are Some Mushrooms?”

           I get lots and lots of letters from readers. I just can’t answer them all.  I try to answer as many I can, but this recent one gives an idea of how extreme some can be… it is from a reader in another state who wants to come to the Ozarks and try to find some fishing which I wrote about months ago…

            He writes,”Which river were you fishing? Which river is better fishing? Where did you launch your boat? What is the water like, shallow, rocky, etc? What kind of boat do you need to fish it? Exactly what part of the river were you fishing, mile marker, up or down from boat ramp? Is September the best time to fish there? Are there any guides for that trip?

            Another reader this month wanted to know if I could send him a map of a small lake in Canada I wrote about. He wants me to mark my favorite spots! And then a young man wrote to me about a class assignment in which he wanted to know what inspires me to write.  I’d like to give him some great answer, but have no idea what to tell him that he or I would understand.

            Another lady sent a couple of articles she wrote wanting me to analyze her work. I get lots of that, and it makes me feel bad that I can’t help.  Actually, if anyone knew how little I know about writing they wouldn’t want my opinions.  In college writing classes, I seldom made average grades.  I had one journalism course at Missouri University and got kicked out of it before it was half over because I couldn’t write good enough!!  I wonder what that professor would think if he knew someone wanted me to analyze their writing?  Brother, would he get a laugh out of that.

            As for hunting and fishing, I learned what I know about it by spending all the time I can out somewhere exploring or fishing, and anyone can do that if it is more important to you than anything else… if you love it that much. I grew up with that and I know nothing about anything else.

            Now that mushroom season is upon us, I recall those letters asking me how to learn to find them. That’s a simple thing to help with…   I tell everyone, “Look at pictures of mushrooms and then go out and spend hours walking through the woods until you see some just like them.  The more you find, the better you’ll get at it.”

            There will be lots of mushrooms to be found in the Ozarks over the next two weeks.  This past weekend, there were several growing in the lawn up here on Lightnin’ Ridge. There just isn’t much to it.  You just go out where there is some and get a bagful. You know what you need to enjoy mushroom hunting or turkey hunting or crappie fishing??   Freedom, and carefree hours to spend!

            If you have the freedom to forget what bills are due and what you have in your bank account and the only thing to worry about is what is over the next ridge or up the next creek, then you will make a good mushroom hunter.  Just don’t look at the ground around your feet.  Look out at the woods ahead of you.  Mushrooms never sprout up beneath you, they are found in the places you have never walked before, just ahead.

            There are beautiful wildflowers growing amongst them, and treasures to come across.  Last weekend on our day-long trip to Truman Lake, one of the hikers, Bob Brown of Joplin, found a set of shed antlers within a few feet of each other, ten points, beautifully symmetrical.

            Occasionally this time of the year I find arrowheads while hunting mushrooms and turkeys. Happening across an old home place a few years back I found a 1922 license plate and an old blue-green Lydia Pinkham cork-top medicine bottle dated 1918.

            Such carefree days will end soon with the coming of ticks and copperheads, and 95-degree temperatures.  But freedom never ends if you have found it, and it never comes to many no matter how hard they search for it. Freedom is something like mushrooms.

            Back in February, when we were in Wyoming, we had to get a hunting license, so we found a Wal-Mart store in Riverton located in the Wind River Basin about the middle of the state.  It was a big new store with a great looking sporting goods section and we had to search for someone to come back there who could help us. When we found someone, he told us that the store just couldn’t find enough employees.  He said the starting wage there was ten bucks an hour and they needed a hundred workers!

            I don’t need much in my pursuit of the outdoor life I live.  But Wal-Mart stores always have what I occasionally need.  Common working people in the Ozarks are lucky to have those stores close.  I hunted quail one day in north Arkansas with Sam Walton, invited on the hunt by one of his friends.  I only lived a few miles from his mountaintop home at the time.  He seemed to be a plain ordinary guy who was really fond of his birddogs.

            When I go into WalMart stores today I think Sam Walton would be proud of the ordinary day-to-day workers who patrol the aisles and man the counters.  I just can’t say enough about how friendly they are, and how they go out of their way to help anyone who needs it.  I can’t say the same for upper management people.  Most of them could learn a thing or two from those lower-level workers.  It has been my experience that if you have a problem of any kind in WalMart, you are wasting your time to ask for a manager… go find a regular employee to help.

            If you are a person who spends a great deal of time outdoors, far from people, you should have a little pocket phone with you, just in case you come across an emergency.  I don’t know a thing about texting or tweeting or any of that nonsense, I just keep a phone to use to talk on. You can send me a text message if you like but you’ll need to find me and show me how to make it work!!  I have noticed that in remote areas, the phone sometimes doesn’t work so well, but you can walk to high points and get through that way, and that simple little phone can be valuable in such a manner.

            I dealt with two phone companies, Sprint and Verizon, and it didn’t take long for me to realize those companies weren’t for what I wanted, changing the rules and the charges as they wished. I found no honesty in either company. So I went into WalMart and found a simple little phone, and each month I go in and pay them 25 dollars to activate it, and finally the problem seems to be solved.  If you are someone who just wants a phone you can make a call on, and receive calls without all the other nonsense of modern technology, you might do the same thing I do.

            It is a shame that modern day technology excludes the old-time simplicity and honesty we Ozarkians once treasured.

1 comment:

jamie w said...

i have found alot of mushrooms growin in rocks and bluffs and i shed hunt with little luck and found one side of an eight on a bluff side twards the begginin of the big piney