We hadn’t had a rainstorm since Wednesday afternoon– four days without rain! By the standards of this year, it’s been a regular drought! I haven’t been down to the river in quite a while, and thought I might spend some time this morning exploring the woods alongside the South Anna. I biked, then walked down to the river field under heavy leaden skies. As you can see, despite the recent dry spell, the grass and trees are still pretty intensely green.
Along the edge of the field, there were loads and loads of these weird coral fungus. I must have seen several dozen little flushes like these.
When I got to the river, I was a little surprised at how far down it had gone, after just a few days without rain. In fact, it looked like a depressing muddy ditch, and I didn’t even take a photo (now that I’m sitting in my room hours later, I kind of wish I had). I followed the path alongside the river for a while, but it soon petered out into a mass of poison ivy. The forest near the river was dense and overgrown, the ground still moist and swampy. It was humid and without breeze, and the mosquitoes were fierce. This photo, blurry as it is, conveys a good sense of what it was like in that part of the forest this morning.
I spent twenty minutes or so wandering through the thicket, dodging poison ivy and swatting bugs, before deciding that I was actually not enjoying nature at the moment, and heading upslope in search of some more pleasant woods to walk around in. Further from the river, the forest opened up a bit, making for more enjoyable walking, and the bugs were a bit less ravenous. The spot in the photo below was particularly nice, a ferny pathway marking the route of a long-abandoned logging trail.
Thinking about Amanitas. For the most part, I tend to see these common mushrooms (common family of mushrooms, in fact), and think meh, and just walk on. For the most part, they’re poisonous, sometimes deadly so, and I think that sometimes I get a bit resentful that they’re so plentiful, and tend to last so long, while the tasty ones are harder to find, and get eaten by bugs so quickly. Having said that, some of them, like this enormous yellow specimen, are quite impressive, and like the hairy rubber cup, are noteworthy for just how common they are these days.
In the hollow created when a large tree toppled over, there’s a whole mess of wet mud. Looking closely at the mud (not sure if it really comes out in this photo), you can see flecks of what look like gold. I’m pretty sure it’s some sort of “fools gold,” pyrite or maybe flecks of quartz. There was a fair amount of gold mining in this area 100-200 years ago, and I know some people found some gold, but not much. Sometimes, when I see all the gold flecks in the mud, I fantasize that it’s real gold, and about the irony of Twin Oaks is sitting on top of millions and millions of dollars of the stuff while we work ourselves ragged with low-return businesses.
Another Russula. Normally, I’m not too excited about these exceedingly common, mostly inedible mushrooms, but I really liked the way this one was pushing through the leaves, as though it was in the process of being born (which I suppose in a way it is).
Heading back to the top of the hill, I stopped by several of the stumps where I harvested Reishi back in the winter, to check on the new growth of this year’s crop. They are such beautiful and fascinating mushrooms, and now that I know what I’m looking for, they’re actually quite common around here.
Finally, I want to make a quick mention of a very common wildflower that I’ve been seeing all over the place the past couple of weeks. This one is blue, and doesn’t seem to have many leaves, and I’ve been seeing tons of it along roadsides around Twin Oaks and on the way in and out of Charlottesville.
I think it’s a chicory flower, and here’s a pretty picture of a rain-soaked blossom.