June 9 – June’s gift

Today was yet another one of June’s gifts to us– mostly sunny, low humidity, not too hot.  Normally, by this time of the year, we’re experiencing distinctly unpleasant (sometimes unbearable) heat, so I’m just going to keep accepting these pleasant June days with gratitude and appreciation, as long as they keep coming.

Had to spend the afternoon cooking dinner for the community, but before starting my shift, I had a bit of time to poke around in the woods.  Here’s some of what I saw…

In the wood-splitting area near my house, I came across this interesting tableau, with cicada shells and this fascinating pattern inscribed on the inside of a piece of bark.Image

The cicadas have continued in their plenitude this month, although it still isn’t the horror show I had been fearing.  They are audible pretty much all the time, sometimes as a faint drone in the background, and sometimes so loud that you practically have to shout to be heard in conversation.  I’ve been noticing the extent that they’re a culinary boon to all the other critters out there.  I’ve watched birds chowing down on cicadas (although haven’t been able to photograph it), heard talk of our local squirrels feasting on them, and seen armies of ants on many occasions  making meals of dead ones.  In these pictures, an ant is carrying off a cicada wing many times its size.  I imagine the rest of the insect has already been consumed.Image

Image

I always keep an eye on the wood-splitting yard, as there are lots of semi-decomposed wood chips from years past, and it seems like a pretty ideal place for mushroom growth.  On this occasion, there were dozens of red Russulas poking their heads up all through the wood chips.  I’ve been reading about Russulas, trying to figure out whether they’re edible (some are and some aren’t) and how to tell the difference.  This is an interesting article online.Image

Another odd alien-looking fungal growth poking its way out of a stump.  Is it an immature Reishi?  I’ll keep an eye on it over the next couple of weeks/months, see what it turns into.Image

Every time I go out this week, I have to keep revising upward my ideas of how large the Platterful mushroom can grow.  The one I saw this morning is the largest I’ve yet encountered.Image

here it is next to my hand for size comparisonImage

This oak tree had a little depression at its base filled with water from all the recent rain, making a tiny woodland pond.  It’s bottom edge was covered with a ‘green beard’ of moss.  All together it made for an interesting sylvan sight.Image

Once again, I felt pretty fortunate to be poking around in the woods on such a beautiful late spring day.  This photo is of the “Tupelo branch” of the creek, which can run dry if it hasn’t rained in a while, but that certainly isn’t a problem these days.Image

I was walking around with my thoughts here and there, and nearly stepped on this colorful fellow, a good reminder to keep my mind in the present. Image

On closer inspection, this turtle, like all the other creatures of the forest, was enjoying a cicada feast.  I might have to get in line with all the other beasties and start eating them myself!Image

About 10 steps later, I came across another turtle.  I was paying more attention this time and didn’t nearly step on it.Image

I saw this white fuzzy moldlike stuff growing all over the place, on stumps and also just on leaves on the ground.  I wonder if that’s all it is or whether it will sprout a larger mushroom.  Image

As I was returning to my house–finally!– I came across a flush of oyster mushrooms that weren’t all soggy and insect infested.  Hooray! Image

I wasted no time in harvesting these beauties; I cooked some of them up right away to share with the boys, and served the rest for dinner (along with about 10 pounds of chicken-of-the-woods).  And, yup, they tasted just as good as they look! Image

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One response to “June 9 – June’s gift

  1. I love that pattern inside the wood…I always call it “bug writing”. Somewhere on my facebook page there a little album of bug writing.
    I hope you come to maine this summer and take us on a mushroom walk. Looks like you’re learning a lot. Anyway, in general, been enjoying these posts.

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