This weekend I plan at least one outing with friends into the woods to look for morels.
The funny thing is that 10 years ago, around this same time, I was guided on a hunt and found my very first morel. That was a dry year. We only found two, and I'm hoping this weekend will be more successful.
I know it was 10 years ago because in my search for headlines, photos and stories for our Pages From the Past feature in this newspaper I came across a story I remember well. It was the first story I wrote for the Pine River Journal as an intern (except for one Memorial Day service roundup the week before).
The story was about hunting morel mushrooms, and I remember interviewing Alma Christensen and Norm Moody, of Deep Portage Conservation Reserve. It was in the woods near Deep Portage that I was guided to our two small finds.
While we were walking, he sat down without warning and just waited for me to see the mushroom right under my nose.
This story was also significant to me because a week or so later I remember walking through the hallway of Whispering Pines Good Samaritan Society on my way to interview Gracie Snow, I believe for information about the history of the Backus Municipal Airport, and all of the sudden in one of the rooms I could hear a woman reading to residents.
I didn't look to see what she was reading, but it sounded very familiar. It took me forever to realize she was reading my story to the residents there. It was a pretty good feeling.
Even before I was an intern at the Journal, I had written many stories for the Northern Student at Bemidji State University. Even though I enjoyed the student newspaper job, I think hearing my morel story being read to others really solidified a feeling that what we do in this newspaper reaches a lot of people, and that is still something that gives me energy in this job.
Ten years feels like an eternity now, given the life-changing events since then. I spent most of a year in China, got my own house, bought a dog and picked up a second job. Like anyone else, not everything since then has been positive. I also lost my mom and stepsister.
Truth be told, sometimes even the stress that comes with working 28 days a month is stifling. There is so much to do just to maintain a healthy, productive and organized life, especially when doing so alone.
I'll admit, I hadn't planned to own a house so soon, have a dog (let alone two) or especially take up a career that is toward the low end of the pay scale. I made all those decisions based on the twists and turns that life threw at me, and while it can be difficult, there are still reminders today of why I got into writing in the first place, whether that be the phone calls I have received complimenting our Love of the Lakes magazine, friendly smiles I get all over our coverage area or an old reminder of the first time I heard someone reading a story I wrote.
Ten years have gone, with more than a few hills and more than a few valleys. As stressful as it can be, I'm still dedicated to the life I chose and you, our readers. That being said, here's to another 10 years. Wish me luck.
P.S. I'm still figuring out this mushroom hunting thing.