Yesterday, I was cooking for the community. Inspired by my recent trip to Texas, I was doing some outdoor grilling– a bunch of beef brisket, dry spice rubbed (no sauce), smoked next to the coals rather than over them. A fellow mushroom-loving commune member brought me a great big chicken of the woods mushroom, which I was able to incorporate into dinner. I was excited that I got to cook it up, but a bit bummed that I didn’t have my camera to take a photo (and that I wasn’t the one to find it). Around 4 in the afternoon, the sky got all gray and ominous, and I barely had time to gather up the briskets and bring them into the indoor oven before we were hit with another hum-dinger of a late spring Virginia thunderstorm. As far as storms go, it wasn’t anything exceptional; still, it’s always pretty impressive to see nearly an inch of rain fall in about 20 minutes, with lightning and thunder crashing down all around and the tops of the trees twisting and dancing in the wind. Even a “run -of-the-mill” Virginia thunderstorm is a pretty remarkable experience, especially after a week long “drought.”
It rained again overnight, and today was cooler than the past week, but still quite humid and soggy. I had work in the morning, and was hanging out with the kids in the afternoon. I wanted to go for a walk in the woods, but they wanted to go to the pond, and that’s where we went. Later in the afternoon, I finally got a chance to go for a walk in the woods. I figured that all the rain would bring about a bunch of new fungal growth, and I was kinda right– there were definitely some mushrooms out there, but not as many as I had thought there would be. Ennyhoo, here’s some of what I saw:
Not far from my house, I ran across these odd cup fungi. Right next to them, there was another unusual mushroom with a red granulated-looking surface. I’m not quite sure what species of mushroom this is, but I’ll try looking it up later.
Yesterday’s storm did a bit of damage here and there in the woods. This standing dead tree dropped down across a tractor path, and further in the woods I came across a large oak tree that, judging from the “still living” look of its leaves, must have come down in the past 24 hours.
This bright yellow fungus growing in the middle of a rotted out trunk gave a splash of color in contrast to the standard greens and browns of the forest. Doing a bit of internet research, I came across a couple of interesting names for this particular fungus: “Scrambled Egg Slime Mold”, and “Dog Vomit Slime”
I hadn’t walked this path since the winter, when the bright green of the moss on the path stood out against the general lack of greenery in the rest of the forest. Well it looks as though the trees, undergrowth, etc. has caught up!
I know I’ve photographed this effect before, but it’s still cool to me to be in the woods the day after an intense storm and come across places where the runoff from the downpour has laid bare the forest floor. You can definitely see where all the water was running!
Not far from our warehouse, there is an unnatural-looking lump in the ground. People have told me that there are old civil-war trenches and embankments on our land, but I’m pretty skeptical. This was a mining area 100 years or so ago, and I think that the weird random earthworks you see here and there in the woods have something to do with the mining history of this area.
As I headed back home through the woods, I came across several other interesting fungi, some of the photos unfortunately came out blurry. This polypore I thought at first might be something tender and edible, but it was way too tough.
And, closer to the creek, I came across my first bolete of the year! I’ve been doing some research, and it seems like it’s probably an edible one. The characteristics of it look like either a King or Chestnut bolete, although it’s a bit small for either species, it may just be a young one. Either way, it doesn’t have orange/red pores, and it doesn’t stain blue– the two characteristics that, together or separate, indicate that a bolete may be poisonous. So I’m going to cook it up and eat it. Hopefully I’ll still be around tomorrow to tell you about it.
My trip to Texas has messed up somewhat my observations of the mountain laurel season, so I don’t know if it’s early in the season, late, or right in the middle. Either way, I spotted them here and there in the woods, and none of them were prettier than these…
Just by our dining hall, I came across a large stump absolutely covered with oyster mushrooms. Unfortunately, they were, without exception, either full of bugs or mushy and waterlogged and full of bugs. I’m starting to realize just how difficult it’s going to be to find edible oysters this time of year that aren’t filled with extra protein!In addition to all the mushrooms I’ve photographed here, I also found a few edible platterful ‘shrooms and a couple more of the ubiquitous fawn mushrooms. But I’ve taken plenty of photos of them, and they’re just kind of brown and boring looking (although they taste pretty good, and at least they’re not all full of bugs!)