June 14 – assorted wandering and cicada eatin’

Lots of random little threads today– I’ll just jump in and see where it goes…

Yet another perfect day– sunny but not too hot, low humidity– we’ve been so lucky with the weather this month! I had a free hour in the morning, and given my recent success at locating chicken of the woods, I decided to stomp around Monoccan woods to see if I could find some more.

Monoccan is an 80-acre patch of mostly youngish forest that Twin Oaks owns, across Old Mountain Road from the main property.  There are no buildings on the land, and a confusing jumble of tractor paths weave through the property.

In this photo, Monoccan forest on the right, main TO property on the left.Image

I’ve walked through this area a few times before, and I inevitably get lost and turned around.  There aren’t really any landmarks, the forest for the most part looks the same wherever you are, and the paths squiggle every which way, so I wind up wandering randomly until I come to a fence or back out to the road.  It all pretty much looks like this:


I didn’t find any chicken of the woods this morning, but noticed a few things.  For the most part, there aren’t any more spring wildflowers in the woods.  Although I’m still seeing roadside and field flowers, it seems like the closing of the canopy marks the end of forest wildflower season.  This cute purple flower (which I think may be some sort of Lobelia) was a common and attractive exception, and I found lots of it growing in the woods this morning.Image


In the fungal family, I mostly encountered the same mushrooms that have been common in our woods over the past couple of weeks.  Lots of what I now believe to be wood clitocybes:Image

and the ever-common edible platterful mushroom.  It’s a shame that these are only so-so for eating, as I sure have found a lot of them this month! Image

I also found what I believe to be a red chanterelle, or some other form of chanterelle.  I was a bit suspicious, since it’s kind of early in the year for chanterelles, but it sure does look like one.Image

I also came across a lot of indian pipe.  I first spotted this about a week ago, and now I’m seeing it everywhere.  This is definitely the time of year for indian pipe!  I was especially impressed with the way it looked when bunches of them would burst out of the ground all together, pushing up leaves, dirt, and wood.  I just was online reading articles about indian pipe, and learning some fascinating things.  In the unlikely event that anyone reading this is interested in learning all about this fascinating plant, I would recommend clicking here or here.Imagelots of this in the woods today


Eventually, as always happens in Monoccan woods, I got completely disoriented, and wandered randomly until I came across the fence dividing our property from the neighbors.  In this photo, it’s pretty easy to tell the neighbor’s clean, orderly land from the dense forest on the Twin Oaks side of the fence.Image

On the way back, I encountered even more of these guys, which go by the appetizing name of “hairy rubber cup.”  I first started seeing them a month or so ago, and have been noticing them ever since– they are quite common in the woods around here, and according to Wikipedia, they are consumed in Malaysia, although generally considered inedible in North America.  Curious…Image

When I was down in the chicken yard today, I noticed that the apples are starting to turn red.  There’s an old-timey song about june apples, which has been going through my head all day.Image

Still green, but the apples will be good eatin’ soon enough…Image

On the way up from the chicken yard, I came across a patch of milkweed in full flower.  Sure enough, the milkweed flowers had attracted a whole bunch of butterflies and other insects.  I tried taking a bunch of photos, this one came out the best.Image

Late in the afternoon, I went with the family over to Living Energy Farm, a community started by friends of ours nearby in Louisa County.  They were able to purchase a large tract of land, mostly because it had just been clearcut.  Now they’ve lived there a couple of years, and the forest is just starting to grow back.  It was interesting walking around their property, so close to Twin Oaks, but so different in feel. Image

There were many species of plant and flower that you just don’t really see much of at Twin Oaks– I guess recent clearcuts isn’t an ecological zone that we have a lot of.  I also haven’t seen any black-eye Susan flowers at Twin Oaks, but there were a bunch of them here.Image

This wildflower, which I associate very much with summer in Maine, is one of my favorite summer wildflowers, I guess mostly because of the positive associations, although it is also quite a pretty flower.Image

but enough about the flowers– let’s get to the real reason we were over at LEF:  to eat fried cicadas!  In the background, you can see the birthday “cake” of chocolate-covered cicadas, and the rest of them were served up as appetizers in this lovely colorful bowl.  They were actually pretty good, crispy and salty, although I think I would have liked them even better with some lime and chili, served with salsa in a warm corn tortilla…Image

Yours truly, chowing down on a crispy fried cicada…Image

Sunset over the garden at Living Energy Farm, marking the end of another lovely late spring day in ol’ Virginny…Image


One response to “June 14 – assorted wandering and cicada eatin’

  1. The cute purple flower might be a Skullcap, perhaps Hyssop skullcap, Scutellaria integrifolia.
    Wonderful posting!

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