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Turkeys, toddlers, and the great outdoors

Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

Spring is not my favorite season. That’s reserved for fall, with the changing of the leaves, the final harvest of a summer’s worth of work, pawpaws, squirrel and turkey season, and apple cider. The sorghum molasses doesn’t hurt either. 

Fall is my favorite, but spring is a close second

If fall is the culmination of, and reward for, a summer spent tending and toiling in the dirt, spring is the promise of those good things to come. It’s the potential of the seed and the promise of new life. Spring turkey season is only a few short weeks away and you can already see the toms, puffed up and strutting. It isn’t just the turkeys. All the birds are moving with a sense of purpose that seems to border on the ecstatic. Twitterpated was, I believe, the term they used in the Bambi cartoon. 

Things are happening under the dirt too and soon morel mushrooms – one of my favorite seasonal foods – will be popping up under poplar and elm and apple trees across eastern Kentucky. I personally can’t wait, and may be looking forward to morel season even more than turkey hunting. One big reason is because I’m really looking forward to taking my toddler with me mushroom hunting this year. That, and I don’t have to crawl out of bed before the break of dawn. 

I took my son with me morel hunting last year, a day after his first birthday. I carried him with me in a baby sling, on my chest, facing out so he could see. He wasn’t much of a walker yet then, but he enjoyed himself from his perch. He would reach out and touch a twig on a tree, then look back at me to make sure it was okay and smile. We found morels on that outing too, and I definitely got my cardio in packing him in and out of the holler. 

This year he’s a bonafide walker, and he is already enjoying what the change in season means. This weekend he learned about sliding boards, even going down backwards on his stomach, and helped me cut back multiflora rose from the fence line. (Ok, he threw and chased a ball and tormented the cats while I cut wild rose. But watching him laugh definitely made my job easier.) 

He will be going mushroom hunting with me when I get out to check my spots. 

He definitely enjoys the outdoors, so I don’t think I’d be able to slip off and mushroom hunt without him this year even if I wanted to. With him walking so well now, it’s going to bring some logistical challenges – though it might save my back some stress – but I think the trade-off in watching him learn to enjoy the woods is going to be worth it. 

This is exactly what I came home to Kentucky for, and I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for it. 

Jeremy D. Wells can be reached at editor@cartercountytimes.com

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