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.

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