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.

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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

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One response to “October 10 – after the rain

  1. you coming up here for a visit? will you have time to take a couple of folks on a mushroom walk? By the way,.I love reading your posts.

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