May 11- hello muggy

“It ain’t the heat, it’s the humidity…” One of the all-time cliches, which is unfortunately too true around here.  Last night, I went out with a friend who, like me has spent years in north Florida, and we both commented on how much it felt like a Florida evening, thick velvety moist air, with precipitation that wasn’t so much rain as humidity condensing into drifting droplets.

Today was much the same; although the day never got all that hot, it was far more sticky and sweaty than 75 degrees should feel.  In the early afternoon, I had some free time, so took a meandering walk around the pond, through the woods and up to the graveyard, then back through the woods to the back of my house.  Lots to look at these days:

We’ve got several mulberry trees, but only one is of the Illinois Everbearing variety (by far the superior variety of mulberry).  That tree is laden with berries, which should start getting ripe in a week or two.Image

Man oh man are those going to taste good!Image

The yellow irises growing all along the edge of the pond have started to bloom.  Every year I’ve been here, there are more and more of them; in a few years, the entire pond edge is going to be a solid bank of yellow irises.Image

The flowers themselves are really lovely, and as you can see, less than half of the flower buds have opened.  It’s going to be even more spectacular in a few days.Image

Close-up fo yellow irisImage

another close-up, of a tulip poplar leaf being born.  Although the trees have been fully leafed out for over a week, this is a time of amazing plant growth, and everything is opening up and going for it!Image

The Maypole, where last week we had our annual Beltane ritual, adorned with the ribbons wrapped around it during the dance.Image

Close-up of ribbons on the Maypole.Image

Walking past the Maypole, through a field that, a few months ago, wore a crust of dead brown grass beneath gray leafless trees.  Sure looks springy today!Image

Along the way, I kept my eyes open for mushrooms.  I found a number of common Faun and Oyster mushrooms, but unfortunately they were all mushy and/or decayed and/or full of bugs.  None more so than this group of fawn mushrooms I found near a rotted out hollow stump.Image

The fawn mushrooms I found there, like many other I’ve seen this week, provided a feast for hungry ants!Image

Some other ‘shroom notes:

As in previous outings this week, these Pholiota veris shrooms were by far the most plentiful species I found.  If they were edible, I would have found quite a haul, as I came across literally hundreds of caps, in all manner of condition.Image

Not sure if these are also the same P. veris or something else.  They looked really cool.Image

As I passed through the graveyard, I stopped at a friend’s grave to clean up some debris, and discovered this family of inky caps growing right in the middle of them.  They might have been the edible Mica cap species (Coprinus micaeus), but even if they were, there weren’t enough to bother with, and it seems somehow wrong to eat mushrooms growing out of a gravesite.Image

Along the way, I came across many areas in the woods where mashed vegetation, cleared areas of forest floor, and “logjams” of leaf debris gave testimony to the violence of the storm a few days ago.  It really was unbelievable the rate at which water was dumping out of the sky.Image

The runoff from the storm cleared this path as completely and efficiently in a few minutes as a person with a rake and lots of time could have done in hours.Image

This flattened onion grass was in the wrong place at the wrong time!Image

As I was looking more closely at the crushed vegetation, I came across another one of these brightly colored centipedes.  Image

I also found the well-preserved shell of an ex-turtle.Image

closer to home, I discovered that old piles of rotting branches at the edges of clearings are good places to find fawn mushrooms.  Can you spot the three ‘shrooms in the photo below?  Fortunately, we have several such piles close to my house, and I was able to pick a dozen or so caps in good shape.Image

As soon as I got home, I ran into my younger son, Sami, who wanted to go out and find some mushrooms with me.  I remembered the yellow waxy caps that I spotted yesterday, and we went back to that area to investigate.  There were a whole bunch of them there, and we picked a dozen or so to try out.

Here’s Sami, carefully avoiding poison ivy as he picks his first waxy cap.  Image

Here’s a close-up of one of these fascinating ‘shrooms.Image

And here they are in the pan.  Their flavor was strong and a bit odd, definitely an acquired taste.  Although I’m reasonably sure of my identification, there’s always a bit of an unknown when eating a new type of mushroom.  I guess you will all know in a day or two whether I lived. 🙂Image

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