I’m going to put this photo right on top, because I like it.
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.
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.
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!
In many places, the trail itself is buried under a mosaic of red and orange leaves.
This field, at the edge of high south, has made for a lovely sight in all seasons. This morning was certainly no exception.
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.
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.
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.
…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.
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.