Hard to believe the year is half over and this project is halfway done. Before I start describing the day’s activities, I want to briefly thank all the folks who have, online or in person, given me support and encouragement in this project. Ultimately, I’m doing it because it is something I am myself excited about, but knowing there are folks reading the journal, and hearing people’s feedback and appreciation really makes it more enjoyable for me (plus gives me more impetus to keep going over the next six months). Ennyhoo, enough with the Oscar speech (“I’d like to thank all the little people”), and on to the nature observation…
This afternoon, I took the boys to town. Then I drove the car back down to the courtyard to park the car. Then I took an extremely winding, circuitous path back to Kaweah that took me past the STP, through some pastures, through the woods near the cemetery, and back through the woods home. This photo taken along the creek, looking up at the pasture and the edge of our sledding hill.
Close to the creek, I came across one of the ugliest and most fearsome creatures of central Virginia– the dreaded alligator snapping turtle. This foul-looking beast is the one creature that I actually have an irrational fear of when I’m swimming in our pond or river, given the number of protuberances that could, in murky water, be mistaken for little fishes or wormies.
As it was impossible to continue into the woods without passing through a thicket of poison ivy, stinging nettle, and electric fences, I doubled back through the cowfield, under the watchful eyes of our bovine friends. All this tramping about in cow fields on a warm humid summer day brought my thoughts back to my misspent adolescence, which involved lots of tramping through cow fields on warm humid days in search of a different sort of fungal treasure. Unfortunately, I’m not likely to find that sort of mushroom in Virginia.
I started out exploring through the woods at the edge of the cemetery, then criss-crossed the cemetery itself. Since the woods and underbrush in this area have been so well-trimmed, it’s a pretty ideal spot to find mushrooms. At first, I wasn’t able to find much other than a whole bunch of these little red chanterelles, which I think are Cantharellus cinnabarinus. Although I didn’t pick any on this trip, they are worth picking, just because you can get so many of them.
Once I got into the cemetery proper, it didn’t take too long to start coming across more chanterelles. They are just coming up everywhere this time of year! In fact, to tell you the truth, it’s taking a great effort right now to sit at the computer and type this entry rather than run around in the woods looking for more chanterelles right this very moment!
When I saw these, I thought at first they were a bunch of eggs in a nest on the ground– turns out it was a mass of some sort of white mushrooms all growing together. I wish I had thought to take photos of the underside so I would have some chance at ID’ing them. Even so, they were a pretty cute find.
I still had a few minutes before dinner, so I invited my son Sami to come out and pick chanterelles with me. He’s getting pretty good at finding them– I just indicate a general direction that I had seen some small ones a couple of days ago, and he runs off into the woods to find ’em.
One more chanterelle photo– after dinner, as I was heading up to Tupelo to do some recording, I came across yet another patch, including these two, which are the largest chanterelles I’ve yet seen at Twin Oaks (it’s hard to tell from this photo, which lacks scale, but they were about as large as the palm of my hand). These, along with everything else I picked this afternoon, wound up in ‘shroom quesadillas, a late evening snack for a bunch of friends who came to visit. Yum!