The Back Yard Bum

So I think I might've mentioned a few posts ago that my husband is addicted to 'shrooms. No, not the psychedelic kind (although the way he zones in on the kids' cartoons sometimes makes me wonder). I'm talking about the tasty wild morel mushrooms that pop up here in the Midwest for a very (very, very) limited time every spring. Unfortunately for us, and our fellow morel-loving Iowans, the weather has been too weird this season for many to grow. Still, Curtis faithfully combs the woods behind our house on a near-daily basis, hoping to find the mushroom motherlode.

When he went out a few mornings ago, I was surprised to recieve the following picture from his cell phone:

In the accompanying text, he explained that he'd come across a homeless dude sleeping on a towel in our woods. I texted back, "Is he, like, alive?"

He was snoring, Curtis replied, so yeah.

The whole situation started to make me very uncomfortable. On one hand, I was sad for the dude ... just like I'm sad for anyone who must resort to camping out on a towel in some woods. On the other hand, I was pretty substantially creeped out. I mean, there was some random guy posted up in what is virtually our back yard. Close to my house, and my kids. And Curtis was scheduled to work the night shift. Yeah, I realize that the majority of homeless people are not crazy substance-abusing halfway-house escapees, but it only takes one ... and I was hoping it wasn't the one chilling on his little pink towel just a hop, skip and a robbery-gone-bad away.

When Curtis came back inside we discussed it further. He didn't seem to be that concerned about it; I was the one with a serious case of the heebie-jeebies. I started to wonder if I was overreacting. And despite the fact that I was apprehensive about the dude's presence in our woods, I was also concerned for him.

"Will you take him some food?" I asked Curtis. He looked at me like I was crazy.

"He didn't look hungry," he said. "He was kind of fat."

"That doesn't mean he wasn't hungry!" I shot back. "I mean, if we were suddenly forced to sleep on a towel in the woods, this" - I grabbed my love handles for emphasis - "wouldn't go away overnight."

Curtis shrugged. "True," he said. "But I'm not taking him food."

Pouting, I went to take a shower. I pondered how wise it would be to take the guy some food myself - but I didn't have to ponder for long, because as soon as I got out of the shower, Curtis appeared at the bathroom door. In his hand was a plastic bag containing several cans of chicken noodle soup (with pull-tabs, natch) and a whole loaf of this Amish friendship bread I'd just baked. And this, dear friends, is one of the gazillion reasons why I love my husband. "I'm going to give him this," he said grudgingly.

So he set out into the woods again. I watched out the back door until he came back, optimistic because, hey, even a crazy homeless dude wouldn't attack someone bearing food ... right? Sure enough, after a couple of minutes I saw him heading back toward our house ... still holding the bag? And smiling? WTF?

"WTF?" I inquired when he was within earshot.

Apparently when Curtis found the guy again, he was awake this time, sitting up on his towel ... and texting. On a smartphone. They'd had a brief conversation, and come to find out, it wasn't a homeless dude at all - just a teenage hoodlum delinquent boy skipping school. Curtis had been right: the guy wasn't hungry.

But hey, at least we tried to help. And my paranoia about the woods becoming a homeless shelter subsided. (A little bit.)

I do feel sorry for Curtis, though. Because despite spending forever tromping through the wilderness, and having strange encounters with random sleeping guys, this is all he came up with for the "Great Mushroom Harvest of 2011":

Yep ... one single, solitary, lonely mushroom. You better believe he fried it up, though.

And I didn't even ask him to share.


  1. I have to laugh at your husband's smile with that mushroom. He looks so darn happy, you hate to tell him that there's only ONE MUSHROOM.

    Cracking me up about the kid sleeping in the woods. That would creep me out, too.

  2. I am just glad he wasn't homeless because it would make me sad and feel creeped out all the same too.

  3. That was great! Love the picture! Also love the fact that "WTF?" is a label for this post! : )

  4. I would have been creeped out too. What's wrong with yutes these days?

  5. You and Curtis are such good people - offering to feed a homeless guy right in your own woods! That kid is lucky it was Curtis who found him sleeping there, and not some mugger!

    Too bad Curtis didn't find more morels, but at least he enjoyed the one he found!

  6. "... he was kind of fat." Awesome. I always said if I were homeless all I would need to pan handle is $5 a day because that's how much the Cici's pizza buffet costs. I would just belly up all the live long day. Not such a bad way to go, now that I think about it.

  7. I've watched ONE too many Criminal Minds to be okay with anyone living in my woods... I'm jus sayin.

    And we had two LARGE mushrooms like that in our front yard. I told my husband that's what I thought they were, but he didn't want me to eat them. Oh well. If they come back next year, they don't stand a chance. :)


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