May 12-13 flowers & ferns, leaves & shrooms

The good news is that, 48 hours after eating some unfamiliar mushrooms, I’m quite fine thank you.  The bad news is that I’m deep into a short turnaround index (one of my primary work-type activities), which has been cutting into my available time for amblin’ and ramblin’.  The good news is that there’s so much going on these days that I don’t need to go far to see new and novel things out there in the woods these days.   Such as….

…bulls-eyes on maple leaves.  What’s going on here?  I first saw these yesterday, and now I’m seeing them all over.  Is it some sort of insect egg or larvae?  I don’t know, but my kid is really into them, pointing them out whenever he sees them.Image

And these weird furry things on the oak trees– what are they?  Some sort of flower?  Some sort of seed pod?  An oak disease?  They’re all stringy on the inside.

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And here’s another leaf with a weird lump in it–it seems that it doesn’t take long for the perfection of spring foliage to start to decay.  Entropy occurring before my very eyes!

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Enough of that, let’s look at something pretty.  Like the rhododendron in front of  our dining hall, which just started blooming over the past 48 hours.  Wow is is ever spectacular!  I think there are a lot of wild versions of this plant on the farm, which I intend to go and find when I actually get some time to do it!Image

lovely flowers…Image

another interesting flowering plant I found today– I think it’s a type of wild blueberry-type bush.  This particular plant is almost totally inconspicuous until it’s in bloom, then it really stands out.

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Just after lunch, I took a quick walk through the boggy area down beneath the tofu hut, near the creek.  This time of year, it’s a wilderness of ferns.  The sight of all the ferns, plus the particular odor ferns emit when you’re walking through them, always makes me think of Maine in the summer.  I’m definitely a sucker for the visual aesthetics of a ferny forest.Image

Did you know that this sort of fern had a flower?  A brown stalk covered with tiny flowerlike bumps.  I didn’t know they did that.Image

aaah, ferns!Image

While I was squishing through the bog, I came across a stump covered with citrusy smelling “Dryad’s Saddle,” which is definitely edible.  Some people think it’s pretty good, and some think it’s not worth bothering. (http://themushroomforager.com/2011/05/12/the-oft-overlooked-dryads-saddle/) These were tender enough to be worth a try, but when I cut a piece off, it was all full of bugs, so I opted to leave it be.Image

Mushroom gardening is an interesting pasttime.  Unlike vegetable gardening, which requires constant battling with “nature,” lest the weeds and bugs overrun your delicate food plants, mushroom gardening involves putting a bunch of mycelial spawn in an ideal environment for the mushroom you want to grow, and then letting it do its thing.  Over the years, past mycophiles have created a several piles of shittake logs at Twin Oaks, and I’ve been harvesting them each week for the Sunday dinner I cook for the community.  Since the beginning of May, they’ve really kicked into high gear.  Last Sunday, I picked one the size of a dinner plate.  None of these were quite that big, but you get the idea.  Soon, our current “mushroom manager” will be leaving the community, and guess who’s going to be the new manager?  Image

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