Monthly Archives: October 2013

October 31 – autumn colors and honey mushrooms

It seems like, in Central Virginia, the last week of October is the peak of fall foliage season.  On Tuesday, I drove the tofu truck to Charlottesville for my weekly delivery, and the entire way there and back, the interstate was a corridor of spectacular reds and yellows and oranges.  I’ve had this experience in previous years, being surprised that for a couple of weeks in the year, a 40 minute drive along a usually fairly nondescript stretch of highway could be so spectacular.  On Wednesday, I was once again going to C’ville, to spend the afternoon in town with the boys, and I took a few photos of the fall colors, but they hardly match the experience of driving past mile after mile of brightly colored trees, glowing with bright warm autumn sunshine.  Here’s some of what I’ve been looking at over the past couple of days:

Here’s the forest edge, photographed from my back yard.  For some reason, the fall colors haven’t been quite as spectacular at Twin Oaks as they seem to be in town or along the roads and highways around here, but it’s still pretty scenic.  Image

and this is the view from my front door.Image

More fall colors, looking out across the Morningstar orchard.  These photos are all from Wednesday morning.Image

That morning, as I was eating breakfast, one of my housemates mentioned finding a honey mushroom in the Morningstar yard.  I asked if she had seen a whole bunch or just a few.  Although she said she had only seen one, I have learned from past experience that if you see one, then there are likely to be hundreds coming up.  I had some free time in the morning, so I headed over with a bowl and a knife, and discovered that the lower half of the orchard was absolutely covered in honey mushrooms!  The area had been mature woods, and was cleared about four years ago to make a solar clearing for the building (which was having mold issues, partly because it never received direct sunlight).  I’m thinking that down under the ground, there are lots of great big roots rotting, because a few times each year, the yard explodes with hundreds and hundreds of honey mushrooms.  Too often, I don’t discover them until they are getting old and unappealing, but this time I was able to get harvesting just as they were coming up.Image

In addition to many many honey mushrooms (I actually wound up filling three bowls), I came across a flush of oysters growing from a stump that had been cut flush with the ground.  When the woods were cleared four years ago, the stumps were all inoculated with oyster mushroom spawn, I wonder if these came from that inoculation, or whether they’re just growing there naturally.  Either way, I’ll pick ’em!Image

More honey mushrooms– they were truly coming up all over the place.Image

Here’s the morning’s harvest, with all the grass and debris rinsed off– not bad for an hour’s picking.Image

And here they are spread out on a big tray to dry off.  They all wound up being served for community dinner on Wednesday night, and they were a big hit.Image

These are all from Wednesday afternoon.  Here’s another shot of the trees out in front of my house.Image

As I was going to town on Wednesday, I tried to take a couple photos of the foliage along the interstate, but none of the shots really conveyed what a beautiful drive it is at this time of year.  This gives a bit of an idea, I guess.Image

Lots of bright fall colors in Charlottesville.Image

We met up with one of my son’s friends at his school.  This colorful maple was right out in front.Image

More brightly colored trees, just off of the downtown mall.Image

Later, as we were all walking through the city, I came across a fence covered with these bright purple beans.  I don’t think they are edible, but the colors are so striking that I had to take a picture.  I don’t know what they are, but they look pretty amazing.Image


October 28 – after the frost

I’m going to put this photo right on top, because I like it.Image

It’s been four days since Friday’s hard frost, and things around here are looking quite autumnal.  It’s the part of autumn where the echoes of summer have entirely faded away, and we’re first being brushed by the icy tentacles of winter, although the beast itself still feels far off.  Here’s some of what I’ve seen over the past few days:

Strangely, I’m seeing a lot of trees losing their leaves right after the frost without any change in color.  The ground underneath this tree is carpeted in bright green leaves.Image

the same is true of the ginkgo in the courtyard.  Normally, these are quite pretty in the fall, but this year it just dropped all of its leaves while they were still green.Image

Some houseplants made it inside in time, and some didn’t.Image

Saturday morning, here’s the public road just at the end of our driveway.  It was a foggy morning, so it was hard to see the fall colors, although they are quite nice at this time.Image

This morning, I set out for an hour to do some exploration around my house.  Here’s the maple tree just by the back door.Image

RIP tomato plants.Image


The recent frosts have also brought to an end the fig season.  It was a little bit underwhelming this year;  although we did eat a bunch of figs, there was never a time of year where they felt inexhaustibly prodigious, as they have in past years.Image

Walking through the woods, I came across a pair–maybe more– of pileated woodpeckers, which I attempted to stalk for a while.  It was kind of difficult to see how many there were– it seemed like 3 or 4, but I can’t imagine why that many would be together.  This was the best photo I was able to take, and it won’t win me any awards!  Image

The fall colors have really begun to light up the forest.Image


In many places, the trail itself is buried under a mosaic of red and orange leaves.Image

This field, at the edge of high south, has made for a lovely sight in all seasons.  This morning was certainly no exception.Image

Bright tree at the edge of the field.Image

Once again, I didn’t see many mushrooms.   I’m beginning to accept that this was a generally lousy fall for mushroom hunting.  September and the beginning of October were increasingly hot and dry, then once the weather broke it took a few days for mushrooms to start coming out again.  There were a couple of half-decent days last week, but the recent cold snap, with frost every night, put an end to that.  These mock oysters, although inedible, are fuzzy and quite pretty.Image

These mica cap are also pretty, although a bit too old to be worth picking.Image

Looking up the creek near the boundary of our property with our neighbor’s.  I was encouraged to find a lot of old dried oysters on fallen trees here.  Although there were none worth harvesting, it’s clear that it will be worth checking back here when it is warmer and damper.Image

I spent part of the hike thinking about jack-o-lantern mushrooms.  I know it’s silly to ascribe good or evil to a fungus, but I do think that the jack-o-lantern is a somewhat evil mushroom.  It is a beautiful mushroom when young, in an evil kind of way.  Then, as it ages, it deteriorates and becomes increasingly nasty-looking until it winds up as a puddle of truly foul-smelling black goo.  In its prime, it is sometimes mistaken for a chanterelle, one of the most benevolent, delicately tasty species of edible.  The jack-o-lantern reportedly even tastes good, but consuming them will result in several days of intensely painful stomach cramping.  This fall, it has been the most spectacularly abundant mushroom I’ve seen.  Even on days when there’s not much else growing out there, I’m always sure to see at least one enormous flush of these big orange mushrooms.Image

More jack-o-lanterns, growing in the graveyard.Image

Okay, I did increase the color saturation a bit in this photo, still it’s a very pretty field at this time of year.Image

As I got closer to home, I had a little more success in finding edibles– like this single blewit poking up through the leaves.Image

…and a bit further up, a pile of decomposing logs completely covered with dried old oysters.  Although none of them were currently edible, it is nice locating a spot conveniently close to my house that will be abundantly sprouting when conditions improve. Image

and here’s another photo of the back yard, the view as I emerge from the woods.  There’s still a bit of green in the trees, but we’re right at the peak of color now, and over the next couple weeks we’ll enjoy the remaining bright colors of mid-autumn.Image

October 24 – first frost

And the wheel of the seasons is turning once again.  The past few days have brought our first frosts, light frosts on Wednesday and Thursday nights, and a hard, killing, frost last night.  This morning, as I made my way to the parking lot, white frost covered the ground like a thin layer of snow, and my car’s windows needed extensive scraping, for the first time in many months.  On the radio, they were even talking about snow in the mountains, although it will still be some time before snow makes its way to Louisa county.

Driving into Louisa this morning, it is clear that the fall foliage colors in this area are near their peak.  Unfortunately, I left my camera behind, so I won’t be able to post any pics until a future update.  The photos I have below are from  Wednesday and Thursday  of this week; both days I was able to get free for some brief walks in the woods and record some of what I saw.

I took a number of photos of mushrooms, which are starting to come out again, although the recent frosty nights will probably set them back a bit again.  On Wednesday morning, I took a short walk through the woods and saw many of these small brown ones growing from patches of moss, mostly on or around old tree stumps.Image

Here’s some pretty orange ones growing from a decomposing tree stump.  I think that they may be the deadly gallerina mushroom, one of the most toxic types that grow in our area.Image

At the base of the same stump were a bunch of mica cap mushrooms, which are a pretty tasty edible, although they are so small and delicate that you have to pick a whole bunch of ’em in order to get enough for a meal.Image

Down by the tofu death zone, there was a large standing dead oak tree.  Looking up along its stump, I could see many dozen oyster mushrooms growing anywhere from 10 to 40 feet above the ground.   In this photo, you can barely see the outline of the mushrooms– it was actually pretty hard to make them out against the sky, but they were there all right.Image

On Wednesday afternoon, I drove to town to do some errands.  On the way home, I took this photo, which shows some of the fall colors we’re getting around these parts.Image

Thursday morning was our first frosty morning, although there were just little patches here and there out in the open.  This was the first frost I’ve seen since this spring, although people tell me that there were little patches of it over the weekend.  On Friday and especially this morning, there was a whole lot more frost, entirely covering the ground, but I wasn’t able to get a photo of it.Image

Grape vines in the Morningstar orchard, turning a pretty shade of yellow…Image

My son Sami found some puffballs on a stump in the yard where the kids often play.  In the afternoon, he wanted me to come out so he could show them to me, and here they are.  We cooked ’em up soon afterwards.Image

The real fungal excitement of Thursday was the return of the blewits (C. nuda), one of my favorite edibles, and a mushroom that I had been looking for without success all fall.  Finally I started seeing a lot of them.  As you can see in this photo, when they come up in the middle of a bunch of leaves, they’re kind of tough to spot.  Image

Here’s a closer look.Image

And here’s my back yard.  Just a few days ago, all these leaves were on the trees, and now they’re all over the grass.  I guess it’s time to rake 🙂Image

In the afternoon, I took a walk in the woods very close to my house, and found…even more blewits!!Image
sometimes they’re hiding under the leaves and hard to spot.Image

Here are some with the leaves cleared away.  The ones I find around here aren’t terribly blue, more like tan with a slight blue tint.  They are hard to describe, superficially they look like any number of species, but they have a unique smell, and I certainly know ’em when I see ’em.Image

large puffball glistening in the autumn afternoon light.Image

Some fall color in the Morningstar orchard; red and yellow leaves and orange persimmons.Image

The persimmons are at their prettiest, but if you tried tasing one right now, you’d get a mouthful of nasty astringent!Image

Here’s my afternoon’s blewit harvest, all cleaned off and ready to cook up with dinner (eventually they became fresh ricotta mixed with grilled and chopped blewits and shiitake).Image

I’m realizing that I haven’t been able to post many good photos of the foliage around here, which is unfortunate, because it’s really quite pretty now.  When I’m at Twin Oaks, I haven’t been seeing much really intense leaf color, but whenever I drive into Louisa or Charlottesville, the trees along the roadside are quite spectacular in areas.  This afternoon, I’ll bring my camera to C’ville, and maybe get some good photos.

October 22 – autumn’s adventures

Well, it’s once again been a full week since I was able to sit down and work on the journal, and what a week it’s been!  Over the past weekend, I didn’t get to do a whole lot of obervatin’, as I was in Hampton catching some Phish shows.  But before that, I had a chance to take in some outdoor exploring and adventuring, which I will now share.

This photo was from last Tuesday AM, as I was making my way into C’ville for tofu delivery.  Although it eventually turned into a pleasant sunny fall day, it sure started out eerie and foggy. Image

Delivery was nothing special, but I was able to finish in time to take a walk in the Monticello woodlands, on some forest trails that I hadn’t hiked in several months.  As you can see from the photo below, the overall aspect of the woods is still pretty green– it’s actually interesting, sitting and writing almost exactly a week after taking this photo, to see just how much things have changed in one week.  Hopefully I will get a chance to take and post some more recent shots in the next few days.Image


For the most part, the walk wasn’t all that amazing– the most interesting part of it was that I kept coming across deer in the woods; I probably saw at least three of them.  This one kept still long enough for me to get a decent photograph.Image

For most of the walk, I was again pretty disappointed in the total lack of mushrooms, despite what I thought to be pretty perfect growing conditions– a warm dry day after a week of drizzle.  I was starting to think that I was going to see more deer than ‘shrooms, but towards the end of the walk, I came across a few, including a couple of logs that were absolutely covered with tiny puffballs.Image

A little further on, I came across a large downed oak tree covered with the dried-up remains of what would have been a whole bunch of oysters a few days back… Image

…and even closer to the car, I finally found a small flush of half-decent oyster mushrooms.  Not quite the motherlode, but it was nice to leave not entirely empty-handed.Image

When I got home, I checked on the cute little oysters growing out of the log I inoculated this spring, and saw that they had indeed grown just a little bit.  I’ll check it out tomorrow to see how it’s grown in the past week.Image

So, that was Tuesday.  Then, on Wednesday, I went with my family to Mutton Top cabin, a PATC cabin on the edge of Shenandoah National Park, a comfy “camping” spot that we’ve gone to for the past few years.  The main attraction of Mutton Top is the view from the cabin itself, which is really quite lovely.Image

There’s a large, roomy covered porch all across the front of the cabin, and a happy spider making sure to keep the insect population in check.Image

Here’s another shot, with the edge of the porch and part of the lovely Mutton Top view.Image

crazy-looking earthball mushroom that I spotted on that first afternoon as I was exploring the area around the cabin.  One of a very small number of mushrooms I saw– they just don’t seem to be out these days.Image

Spent the night in the cabin with two other couples and their young children.  Tried to get to bed early, as it was sure to be an early morning what with all the kids in the cabin.  And indeed we were up pretty much right at dawn, which was OK because it was a pretty sunrise.Image

Mist in the valley at sunrise…Image

Early in the morning, I walked down to the spring to fill some water jugs.  The ground all around the spring was covered with delicate green vegetation that made me think of springtime.  I guess that’s why they call it spring!Image

Random photo of fall forest in the vicinity of Mutton Top cabin.  Once we were all awake and breakfasted we set out to explore the area with all the kids in tow.  Image

I thought the pattern of clouds and sky here was quite pretty.Image

shelf mushroom, with secret message!Image

I liked the contrast here of yellow leaf and blue sky.  Image

More fall foliage.  At this point (last Thursday) it wasn’t quite at the peak of color, but getting closer every day.Image

On a previous trip to Mutton Top at this time of year, we feasted on wild persimmons.  We found the persimmon tree, but the fruit was not yet ripe (and if you’ve ever tasted an underripe persimmon, you know how foul it is!).  Nearby, I also found a large wild grape vine, and the grapes were quite ripe.  They’re small and seedy, but also very sweet.Image

close-up of wild grape cluster.  If you don’t mind spitting out a bunch of seeds (or just chewing them up and eating ’em), they can be quite a treat.Image

Another spider I encountered in the woods, with a very pretty pattern on its back.Image

Here were some enormous fleshy shelf mushrooms.  I think they might be some sort of Dryad’s Saddle, which can be edible when young.  These definitely did not look appetizing. Image

The trail wound back and forth through the woods, without any real destination, other than pretty autumn forest and views of Shenandoah through the trees.  It was a scenic time of year, so I didn’t mind, but I think the kids would have liked more of a destination for the hike.Image

My partner Mala with our younger son, coming down a steep rocky trail.Image

When we were still about a mile from the cabin, it began to rain.  Then it stopped.  Then it started again, then stopped again.  When we got back to the cabin and got under cover, we were treated to a cool view of rain clouds scooting through the valley.Image

We took advantage of a break in the rain to head back to the car for our journey home.  The half mile between the cabin and the parking lot was as pretty a walk as any of the hiking trails we took.  Here’s another picture of our younger son making his way down the mountain.Image

The next morning, I was headed off to Hampton Coliseum, where I spent the next few days in an entirely different setting.  Lots of music and good times, but not too much observatin’ of nature.  Over the next couple of days, I’ll try to take some more photos showing how things have changed, since the season has noticeably advanced since I took the photos posted here.


October 14 – drizzly week

It’s Monday afternoon, almost exactly a week after the hot & dry weather broke. After that, we swung to a bit of an opposite extreme; for the past week, we’ve had some amount of rain every day.  Well, “rain” might be a strong word– mostly we’ve had a lot of aggressive mist and persistent drizzle.  Which isn’t a complaint– I actually prefer the past week to what preceded it.  But I’m still waiting for that perfect October day, sunny and cool, surrounded by fall colors with lots of edible mushrooms popping up all over.

Here are some random photos from the past few days:

this was early Friday morning, as I was letting the chickens out into the yard.  As you can see, things have greened up considerably in the past week, kind of odd in mid-October, but it really seems like the recent rains have knocked all the dead dried leaves off of the trees and given a bit of new life to the remaining vegetation.Image

The persimmon trees near the parking lot are covered with fruit, although most of it isn’t quite edible yet.  Wild persimmons are an odd fruit, since when they look good and orange and ripe, they are inedible, astringent and disgusting.  It’s only when they get all brown and withered and wrinkly that they taste oh so delicious.Image

On Friday morning, I went to check out our shiitake logs, and discovered that we’ve had a pretty impressive fruiting in the past few days.  I’m thinking that I should have harvested them a day or two ago, but it’s nice to see the logs producing so much.Image

Lots of shiitake for Friday dinner!Image

The kiwi bushes in our backyard seem to have mysteriously lost most of their fruit.  I’m not sure whether someone has been picking each one as it gets ripe, or whether birds or bugs got them all, but it seemed like there had been a lot and now there’s hardly any, and they never seemed to get ripe.  I checked out the kiwi vines in the morningstar orchard, pictured below, and they are covered with fruit (although they also aren’t ripe).  I’m wondering if the fruits are actually going to ripen this year, or whether they will get killed by frost first.Image


Picture of the pond, from Saturday afternoon.  The fog and drizzle continues….Image

Saturday evening, I went to a party with my family at the large and luxurious home of a friend of someone I play music with.  We got there in the late afternoon, just an hour or so before sunset.  I took this picture of the field near where we parked, as it gives a pretty good idea of what central Virginia has looked/felt like over the past week.Image

On Monday, it finally stopped raining, and we even got a couple hours of sunlight.  In the afternoon, I went on a short walk with my son Sami, just in the woods around the back yard, to see what effect a week of drizzle had had on the surrounding area.  Right away, he noticed these tiny orange mushrooms, only about half an inch high.  Image

The tomato plants in our backyard garden are starting to look pretty done for the year, although they still have a few fruits, which probably should have been harvested several days back.Image

I’m still seeing loads of this white aster wildflower everywhere.  It’s curious because all spring and summer, I have no recollection of ever noticing this plant even for a moment, and now in mid-October it’s blooming everywhere.  It’s interesting how wildflowers can simply vanish from notice when they’re not in bloom.Image

back in the spring, I dragged a few freshly-cut logs into the back woods and put some oyster spawn plugs into them, just to see if anything would grow.  I was checking them out on Monday afternoon, and saw that the logs are now absolutely covered with some sort of white mycelial mat which I’m pretty sure is not from the oyster mushrooms.Image

Then, looking more closely at the places where I’d put them in, I found this encouraging sign; baby oyster mushrooms starting to grow from where I’d inoculated the log!  It’s still too early to declare the oyster mushroom growing project a success, but it’s nice to see that at least it wasn’t a total failure.  I’m pretty psyched that at least one of the dowels, of the hundred or more that I drilled into dead wood, is going to produce something!Image

Looking over the logs, I also saw this spot, with mycelium growing from one of my dowels, which looks promising.  I’ll keep an eye on these patches over the next week or so, and hopefully they’ll produce some shrooms!Image

for the most part, however, the logs that I inoculated look more like this, which makes me think we’re not likely to get a whole lot of oysters from them before the more aggressive mycelium from these wild strains take over the whole log.Image

Later on the walk, we came across this cute little scene; tiny orange mushrooms on a big ol’ stump covered with bright green moss.  Image

very rainforest-y looking.Image

For the most part, there were still far fewer mushrooms in the woods than I was hoping to find, it seems like this fall is going to be less productive than I had expected.  Still, there are some fungus to be found out there, like this large variety which might be some sort of russula, but I haven’t managed to definitively identify yet.Image

It sure is one freaky looking mushroom, though!Image

October 10 – after the rain

Talk about dramatic change in just a short bit of time.  It’s a whole different season than it was just four days ago!  As recently as last Sunday, we were sweating our way through mid-summer temperatures, and the ground was parched from 6+ weeks without proper rain.  Then we had some rain on Monday, and the temperatures dropped.  Then we had more rain on Tuesday night and the temperatures dropped some more.  Then we had another storm on Wednesday night, and by this morning it was suddenly downright chilly!  Although there’s no frost in the forecast, it suddenly doesn’t seem totally out of the question that it could happen soon.

This pic is from Tuesday morning, as I was heading into C’ville for tofu delivery. It appears to be a flock of wild turkeys hanging out in one of our cow fields.Image

And this next group of photos is from Tuesday afternoon.  On this pleasant cool fall day, I walked up from the courtyard past the pond and graveyard, to see how things were looking after one day of rain.  There was a pink/purple aster-looking wildflower growing in great abundance all around the edge of the pond. Image

here’s a close-up of that particular wildflower.Image

There’s also a white aster that I’ve been seeing all over the place this month, growing in thick masses all along the sides of the road. Image

Another wildflower down by the edge of the pond, with a puffy seed head like a dandelion, but the structure of the plant itself looks nothing like a dandelion.Image

here’s a close-up.Image

I was wondering if Monday night’s rain would be enough to push up some mushrooms, but I think that the ground was just so incredibly dry that it just absorbed that first inch of rain like a sponge.  The only mushrooms I saw on. this walk were big old ones that had managed to somehow grow during the hot dry weather, like this massive amanitaImage

So, that was Tuesday.  As I mentioned before, last night (Wednesday night), we had a full night of steady, soaking rain.  This morning it finally felt like the drought was broken.  Oddly enough, the vegetation seemed somehow less colorful than it was a few days ago.  Here’s my theory– since it had been so dry, many of the trees and shrubs were just giving up and starting to lose their vegetation.  When we had all that rain and wind on Monday afternoon, it blew all of the dead leaves to the ground, leaving behind the live green ones.  So, interestingly, there seem to be less colorful leaves on the trees than there was five days ago.

Today, I had loads of indexing work to do, but I allowed myself an hour in the early afternoon to walk in the woods.  It was, for me, a pretty perfect day, cool and wet.  The forest smelled wonderful, and it was a delightful break from indexing to tromp around in the wet forest.

Early on, I checked at a stump where I frequently find oyster mushrooms and saw a tiny patch of baby oysters being consumed by a grey slug.Image

in general, I was able to find a decent number of mushrooms, although still not as many as I would have expected at this time of year.  I think that all of the mycelial growth had become so dried out that it’s taking a few days for it to absorb the newly abundant moisture and start to push out mushrooms.  I did see a fair amount, however, including this freshly-sprouted fawn mushroom, shiny from recent rain.Image

…and this large vase-shaped one, which I think is some sort of milk cap.Image

Here’s a general shot of the forest, all wet and green and lovely.Image

deep in the woods, some Reishi, which I harvested in order to start another batch of tincture.Image

In Gainesville, Florida, where I grew up, the oak trees were covered with “resurrection ferns,” which would go all brown and dry and dead looking between rains, then would perk up and turn bright green when it rained.  The ferns here aren’t nearly as dramatic, but they were looking pretty dead just a few days back; of all the plants, they seem to have perked up the most this week. Image

large dead trunk deep in the woods, absolutely covered with little puffy shelf fungi.  They are all so fresh and soft and new looking– I imagine they must have just started growing here in the past 3 days.  Image

another couple of photos of these cool-looking mushrooms.



I wasn’t finding many edible mushrooms on this walk, but just as I was starting to turn back, I came across this ‘bearded tooth’ specimen, which is quite tasty.  Image

and, my final fungal find of the afternoon, this extraordinary patch of jack-o-lantern mushrooms.  I’ve been encountering some truly spectacular flushes of these guys, which despite being terribly poisonous, are really amazing-looking.Image

It’s a shame you can’t eat them, because they look so good, and there are so many of them, and they’re in such good shape.  But woe be to the person who tries one.  One blog post about bio-luminescence (which is actually an interesting read) describes it thusly: ” The effects are of the typical bad shroom variety; vomiting, stomach cramps, and explosive diarrhea until you wish for death. However, since the toxin in this species (illudin) is non-lethal, you’ll have to suffer through it for a few days. Lucky you.”Image

October 8 – fall colors, part 1

Quite a lot has been happening in the past week, and it’s been difficult to update this journal, as the internet at my home has gone out, and whenever I’ve been at a place in town with wifi, I’ve been pressed for time.  As I am now, but I am determined to move this journal forward.

So, a quick update of the past week, in which Summer finally ended and fall finally began.  I took this photo last Saturday, at about 3 in the afternoon:


as you can see, not only is it over 90 degrees, but the thermometer was in the shade.  I think it was close to 100 degrees in the sun on Saturday, one of the hottest days we’ve had all year!

All through the hot days, the leaves on the trees have begun to change– I’m still thinking that it’s early this year, and I still think it has something to do with the heat and drought.  This photo is from a maple just outside of my window, one which has consistently been one of the most colorful trees around, year after year.Image

Walking through the community on Saturday morning, looking at a small fuit tree in the Morningstar orchard that has already lost most of its leaves.  In general, I’m seeing some trees that have already lost their leaves, some of them seem to have lost leaves without even having them change color.Image

another view of the Morningstar yard from Saturday morning, with the trees on the opposite side changing color.Image

more fall color…Image

On the way into Louisa on Saturday morning, there are several trees with some fairly impressive fall color.  I still think that it’s odd to see so much red so early in October, but it sure is pretty.Image

right in front of the Louisa Library, on Saturday AM.Image

back at Twin Oaks, more fall colors.Image

Sunday was also hot and dry, much like the rest of the month so far.  By Sunday afternoon, things were looking alarmingly parched– the grass was all turning yellow and brown, the forest all dried out.  Sunday night was finally a bit cooler, and there was some overnight rain, which continued on throughout the day Monday.  In the late morning, we finally got a good solid drenching triple storm; rainstorm, windstorm, and leafstorm, as the dried dead leaves were blown from the trees.  Here’s a few photos of the view from my back door, during a lull in the storm. Image

The porch, all covered with leaves freshly blown from the trees.Image

and the maple tree that I had mentioned earlier, in full autumn color.Image

Monday was definitely the turning point– the past couple of nights have been much much cooler, and I can even imagine we might be getting frost soon.  Yesterday was finally a cool, pleasant fall day, and today has been downright cold!  I have a few more photos from the past couple of days, but I’m going to wrap this up now just to keep one step ahead.  Hopefully I’ll get the internet back at home soon and will be able to post updates without having to go into town.