July 5-6 – hotter. and dryer.

The past few days have been the hottest and driest of the year so far, without question.  Not quite heat wave hot, more like typical early July, pleasant early in the morning, quite unpleasant in the middle of the day, and tolerable by late afternoon/early evening.  And it hasn’t rained for about 5 days now, which makes me think we’re on to a whole new weather cycle, one which is less to my liking.

Friday was busy, without much time for obervating.  In the afternoon, I took a short walk up, halfway up to our warehouse and back down down the same road.  Here’s what I picked in that short time, left to right:Image

Not sure of the ID on the big orange bolete on the right, but since it didn’t have red gills and didn’t bruise blue, I tried cooking some up and tasting it.  It was nasty!  One bite and the rest went straight into the compost.  The skinny-stemmed one in the middle is a rooted oudemansiella, quite tasty.  Beneath it are a couple of indigo milk caps, which I finally got to try cooking and eating (the previous ones I found got nasty before I got around to cooking them).  They looked great in the pan (see below), but I found the taste to be a bit insipid and bland.Image

The real find of the day was this green Russula, R. virescens.  I’ve been seeing these around here and there and hadn’t thought much about it.  Today I saw a couple in unusually good shape, and decided to research them a bit more.  To my delight, it turns out they’re considered a choice edible, according to Wikipedia “an edible mushroom considered to be one of the best of the genus Russula, and is popular in Europe.”  I cooked it up, and, as advertised, it was quite delicious.  I’m looking forward to adding this distinctive, plentiful, and tasty mushroom to my culinary repertoire!Image

Saturday was much like Friday, hot and dry.  My regular Saturday morning trip to Louisa was mostly uneventful, but I did enjoy and appreciate this seasonal garden in a planter outside of one of the local mini-malls.  Most of the year, this concrete square is totally nondescript, either brown and dead or full of bland greenery.  Then, at a certain point in the summer, it explodes with floral color for a month or two, then goes back to “blah.” It sure does look pretty right now.Image

When I got back from town, my son Sami was all excited about a patch of chanterelles he had found in the morning.  After we ate lunch, he took me out into the woods to show me his discovery. Image

More chanterelles.  These are only exciting because they are growing about 25 feet from my back door. Image

Later in the afternoon, I had a whole precious two hours of free time, so I started off into the woods for a more extended ramble.  The first thing I saw was a patch of oysters, the first I’ve seen in a while, just behind our community kitchen.Image

For a while, I’ve had this fantasy of creating a little ‘swimming hole’ in our local creek.  This spot would have to be close enough to our buildings that it would be easy to walk to, far enough off of the trail that it would be somewhat unobtrusive and hidden, in a spot where the slope of the bank was gentle enough for easy access, and where there was a gravel bottom that wouldn’t get too mucky.  This afternoon, I came across a spot that seemed perfect.Image

I gathered up some of the larger rocks from the creekbed and started a dam, piling smaller rocks between them.  Then I started clearing away some of the excess sticks and muck.  I didn’t do too much work, as I would like to bring the boys down and get them involved, but it was a start.  I imagine someday having a little gravel-bottomed pool, just a couple of feet deep, where one can go on a hot summer day for a soothing soak, kind of a much much smaller version of my family’s “swimming hole” in the Maine woods.    Image

One of the things I like about chanterelles is that they look like yellow wildflowers on the forest floor.  This one in particular fit that description.Image

As I pushed deeper into the woods, I passed by a wet, swampy area, which was thick with mosquitoes.  I thought it may have led to the weird capped well-thing that I found earlier in the year and hadn’t been able to locate since.  So I followed it upstream, through a dense thicket of scratchy branches (which actually felt good against my many mosquito bites).Image

And, indeed, the line of moist ground and green vegetation did lead me right to the weird capped well thing.  I’m more curious than ever as to who put this there and what it’s all about.  I’m going to ask some of the Twin Oaks old timers if they’ve ever seen it or know anything about it.Image

Further up, I came across a patch of what I believe to be purple-bloom russulas, another edible species in the family.  I picked a bunch of them, but by the time I had time to cook them up for tasting, they had become wrinkly and unappealing.  I think that I may try them if I find another patch.Image

Another fungal mystery– the same enormous fleshy polypore that I found growing on an oak tree a couple of weeks ago.  If anyone has any ideas as to what this is, I’d love to know, as my guidebooks aren’t helping me out with this one.Image

Yet another weird fungus (lots of strange ones today).  These were growing straight out of some compacted gravel– they look kind of gravelly or woody themselves.  I’m going to try to ID these, just haven’t had time yet.Image

here’s a close-up of the freshest looking of these.  I’ll update this post if I can figure out what it is.Image

almost dinnertime, time to head back home through the woods…Image

After dinner, it was still pretty hot, but the sun wasn’t quite so fierce, so it was time for a swim in the pond with the boys!Image

I tried to take a photo that captured the intense colors of the late-afternoon light, and the bright daylillies that are ringing the pond these days.  I’m not quite sure it came out as well as I had hoped, but here it is.  Definitely a lovely time and place for an after-dinner swim on a hot summer day.Image

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