Tag Archives: creek

December 19 – farewell frigid fall; welcome warm winter

We’re getting close to what, technically, should be the last day of autumn (the day before the solstice), but it hasn’t felt much like fall for the past month.  This year, it seemed like winter moved in early and decided to stick around; we have had frost nearly every night for the past month, and the past few days have been gray, breezy, and raw.  This morning was no exception; the leaves that I’m using to mulch the garden (and the one chard plant that has inexplicably survived the fall) were covered in a layer of frost.  As they have been most days this month. Image

here’s a closer photo.Image

But, oddly enough, today was also  first day of what is forecast to be a fairly dramatic warm spell.   This afternoon was the warmest it’s been in months, and the next few days (including the first day of winter) are supposed to be even more pleasant– temps in the 70s with no frost this weekend!  It messes up the narrative somewhat, but after so much cold weather so early in the season, I’m happy to take some sunshine and warmth.

Just after lunchtime, it was warm enough to walk around comfortably in just a long sleeve shirt, so I took advantage of some free time to do some exploratin’ in the sun-drenched, leafless, forest.Image

Not much color out in the woods today, just the brown of leaves on the ground, the gray of tree trunks, and the gray of this old cabin on our property.Image

We had a bit of freezing rain a couple of nights back, just enough to put a tiny trickle of water in this creekbed.  A chain of tiny pools in the forest, linked by tiny cascades and waterfalls.Image

At one point, I came across a tree that had fallen sometime in the past year, that was being devoured by some sort of orange fungus, lit up all dramatic in the late fall sunlight.Image

Here’s a closer photo of the fungus.  It really was that color!Image

As the leaves have fallen from the trees, it’s been nice to once again see and appreciate the revealed shapes of the trees themselves.  This is especially true of the beech trees, and this open bit of woods is the greatest concentration of beech trees on the land.Image

Just a pretty shot of beech trees all contrast-y against a bright blue late fall sky.Image

I crossed over the creek right at this spot where, years ago, one beech tree fell into another one.  Somehow, they both lived, and joined together into a single trunk.Image

And, across the creek, a spot where a single birch fell or was knocked over, but managed to survive and turn three of its lower branches into trunks.Image

I saw some sort of bird fly out of this hole, but it was gone before I could get close or figure out what it was.  It was a small bird of some sort.Image

A spot where it seems like two trees grew together, wrapped their branches around one another, and went on growing.Image

A fallen log with the remnants of some polypore, which has probably been there for months, rotting away.Image

On closer inspection, I think that it may have at one point been an enormous chicken of the woods, which has turned white after months of exposure and frost.Image

Further along, I walked through a depression that holds an intermittent stream, one which runs during and immediately after storms, but most of the time is just muddy.  I came across several spots where pine needles had been picked up by the runoff from recent rains and deposited in ‘liquid-y’ shapes and patterns as the water receded.  It made for some very interesting patterns on the forest floor.Image

Not too far off, an old stump in a state of advanced decomposition, covered with unusual dark brown fungi.Image

And inside of  the equally-decomposed trunk of the tree, a pile of curiously round gray pellets that could be some sort of animal crap, but looked more mineral-y and less organic-y than one would expect.Image

At this time of year, even close to mid-day, the sun is low on the horizon in the south, which creates interesting light effects whichever way you turn.  It’s harder to photograph the way things are lit up when you’re facing into the sun, but this captures some of the effect.Image

A close-up of the same scene, dramatic backlighting bringing out unexpected color.Image

After kicking about on the other side of the creek for an hour or so, I jumped back over to the ‘civilized’ side at this crossing, trying without success to keep my feet dry.  A pleasant enough walk to mark the end of frigid fall and the beginning of  our curious winter warm spell.Image

Advertisements

November 21 – escape from New England

A bit of a “grab bag” post covering the second half of my trip to Maine.  For the last few days, I was more occupied with cleaning and packing the house and socializing with friends,  and wasn’t able to do as much outdoor exploration.   Still, I wasn’t exactly “full-time” busy, and I managed to get out some.  On Monday morning, I went on a very interesting and educational walk with the local logger who has been working on our property, discussing past, present, and future forest thinning projects, looking at areas that had been cut in the past couple of years and areas he would work on this winter. I thought to take my camera, but as it was raining for most of our walk, I didn’t take it out.

In the afternoon, after the rain stopped, I thought I might do some walking through the part of our property on the far side of the creek– nearly half of our total acreage–which hadn’t seen any cutting since before I was born.  First, I had to get across the creek, which was actually running kind of high.Image

The rocks in central Maine, like this sharp shale, are so very different from those in the mid-Atlantic.Image

I walked up and down the banks for a while trying to find a place to cross without getting my feet wet.  At this point, it was just a few degrees above freezing, so I was hoping to stay dry.Image

Another view of my family’s “swimming hole,” where I was able to walk across the stream on the top of the rock dam.Image

So here’s the dumb part.  I got across the creek, and started walking through the pleasant, open forest on that side.  Then, I saw a hunter off in the distance through the trees.  I realized that I had neglected to put on my neon orange cap and vest, quite important this time of year– in fact, I was dressed mostly in earthy grays and browns.  And I really didn’t feel like getting shot the day before I was supposed to fly home, so I turned around and walked home. Image

When I had been in town over the weekend, I bought a bag of birdseed and spread it out around the yard, just to see what happened.  What happened is that a bunch of big blue jays moved in and spent the rest of the week eating the seed.  On the last day I was there, a flock of juncoes showed up to share the bounty with the jays.Image

Tuesday was the last day we would be in Maine, and it was the coldest and windiest day of the week.  Just after I woke up, I looked out the front window and saw snow blowing through the air and a wild turkey in the front yard under the apple tree.  Just before leaving, I made a last-minute trip to a friend’s house.  Here’s a classic November view of West Athens, a hometown like no other.Image

A view of the power line that runs across our property.  Our land starts about three poles back from the “Hole In The Wall Road,” from where this photo was taken.Image

Dairy farm in West Athens.  Green grass, green pines, and 50 shades of gray.Image

Just another mid-fall scene along the “Hole in the Wall Road.”Image

during the week I was in Maine, I came across many apple trees still holding onto some of their withered frost-damaged fruit, long after they had lost their leaves.  I wanted to include a photo of one example of these trees, as it seems like a real sign of the season.Image

I got back to our house on Tuesday morning about 30 minutes before we were going to head down to Portland.  Off to the north, it was clear that something was blowing in.  Just as we were bringing our bags out to the car, it began to snow.Image

It’s difficult to get good photos of snowfall before it starts to accumulate on the ground, but the blustery wind and blowing snow definitely gave our escape from central Maine a bit of urgency.Image

easier to see the snow in this photo.Image

And here’s a couple more photos of our yard, with the white flakes blowing this way and that, as we headed off for points south.Image

Image

We got to Portland on Tuesday evening, and were on an airplane before dawn on Wednesday morning.  Just before 10 in the morning, I arrived at the Richmond airport, having successfully brought my mother out of Maine just in time.  After a week in northern New England, Richmond felt not quite tropical, but quite a welcome change nonetheless.  We sat out in the sun waiting for our ride home, enjoying the “greater-than-40-degree” warmth.  Driving around Richmond, it felt like we had gone back in time about a month.  Many of the trees in the city are still quite bright with color, even the dramatic red and orange maples that had lost their leaves weeks ago around Twin Oaks.

As we made our way back to Louisa County, the last vestiges of fall color fell away, and the woods here at Twin Oaks look not all that different than the forests of central Maine, in that the trees are mostly all bare of leaves, and the landscape is looking pretty much like winter.  Hopefully I will have time to do some exploring and photographing in the next few days; I came home to a big pile of indexing work which promises to cut somewhat into my time for exploration/observating, but I hope to set aside more time to work on this journal sometime in the next few days.

July 23-24 – stayin’ hot and headin’ north

I’m sitting and writing right now at my siblings’ building in Brooklyn, where we’ve relocated for a few days, a “visit the family and get the hell out of Virginia for a week” vacation.  But before I get too far along, let’s get in the way back machine and travel all the way back to last Monday (the 23rd), with some random notes and observations…

On Monday, another hot dry day, I had the afternoon free, and feeling a bit negligent about dropping the ball on this journal, I took a little stroll through the yard and off into the woods.  My journey began with a delightful discovery– all of this hot sunny weather has had one positive outcome:  figs!  The fig trees in my back yard have been putting out fruit for a couple of months now, and just this weekend they started to get ripe.  On Sunday, I picked my first fig of the year, and on Monday, then again on Tuesday, there were several more.  So delicious– I think figs might be my absolute #1 favorite thing we grow at Twin Oaks.Image

The Japanese beetles have continued to breed like mad.  Most days, I’ve had a chance to gather up a bowl of beetles and feed them to the chickens at Tupelo, but I’ve skipped a few days, and it definitely makes a difference.Image

Butterflies in the back yard, one bush in particular was covered with them.Image

Most of them were the yellow and black variety pictured above, but there was one  bright orange individual of a different species.  As I tried to take a photo of it, it started to fly away, the resulting picture came out looking pretty nifty.Image

Image

As I walked into the woods, trying to figure out whether any mushrooms had survived the past 10 days of heat and rainlessness, I came across several specimens that may have been edible several days ago, but were presently in pretty bad shape, like this indigo milky.Image

or this green Russula, which would have made good eating several days ago.Image

I spotted this large shelf mushroom far off through the woods.  The sunlight came through the forest canopy so as to illuminate them, they were glowing brightly.  I think they may have been something edible at some point, but at this point they were all tough and woody and dried out.Image

A word on spiders.  For much of the season, as I walk through the woods, either on our trails or just bushwhacking, I’ve had to wave a “spider stick” in front of me, to keep me from blundering through one web after another.  As the summer has gone on, the webs have become more and more numerous; the walk I took today, which was the first time I’d been out in the woods for over a week, was downright spider-iffic.  Even constantly swinging a spider stick to break webs, I still kept walking into webs, and a couple of times I had to pull a spider out of my hair or off of my face.  Which is pretty unpleasant, even knowing that there are no poisonous web spiders in Virginia (there are black widows, but they don’t string webs between trees).  The spiders we have, though are pretty intimidating looking.  I had tried many times to photograph one of them, and just today figured out a way to trick my camera into focusing on one of them.  I believe they may be some species of Gasteracantha, but I’m certainly no expert on spider ID.  I just know they are one crazy looking bug, and it’s kind of unnerving to have one crawling around on your face, even if you know it isn’t poisonous.Image

one freaky looking spider.Image

I’m still finding lots of coral mushrooms in the woods, but you can see that the recent hot dry weather has taken a toll on them.  The ones below, like most of the mushrooms I encountered today, definitely was looking dried out and heat-stressed.Image

walking along a tractor path used by the forestry crew for cutting trees in the winter.  The green grassy looking plant looked almost like some sort of bamboo.  When I lived in California, I did some work with invasive plant removal, and it was interesting to see how logging paths were a vector for invasive plants that would grow along the paths and then spread out into the woods.  It doesn’t look like these plants are spreading beyond the path itself, but you can definitely see how non-native plants use logging roads and paths to push their way into otherwise impenetrable forest.Image

Deep into the woods, I started to come across some remnant chanterelle patches.  The first one I spotted was extremely heat stressed.Image

but then, I started to spot some others that were in surprisingly good shape.  I didn’t expect to find chanterelles under these conditions, but wound up filling my basket with them.Image

My prize find of the day was this enormous, bug free bolete.  I’m not sure what type it was, but I’m pretty sure it was one of the edible ones.Image

One mushroom I’ve continued to see lots of, even in the summer heat, is the Old Man of the Woods bolete.  What these particular mushrooms lack in gastronomic value, they make up for in sheer interestingness of appearance.Image

look at the weird texture on the cap of this one!Image

Along the way, I stopped in at my ‘dipping hole’ along the creek to splash some water on myself.  I wanted to do some more raking and dumping of rocks, but was running short of time by this point.  After nearly two weeks without rain, the creek was looking pretty low.  Image

Finally, just before I left the woods, I came across this flush of white oyster mushrooms, also in surprisingly good shape.  The brown specks on them were bits of sawdust, from ants (termites?) that were eating away at the stump above, and washed right off.  These oysters (along with the chanterelles I found) all wound up in omelets on Wednesday morning.Image

Tuesday AM.  I snapped this picture as I was heading out to C’ville to deliver tofu early in the morning.  The sky was actually much prettier than the photo shows, but I guess it kind of gets the idea across.Image

Tuesday after dinner, going for a walk with the boys.  I guess it’s a testament to such a wet spring and early summer that, even after so many hot dry rainless days, the countryside is still so green and shows no sign of drought.  Hopefully we’ll start getting rain again before things really start drying out.Image

On Wednesday morning, the whole family loaded up the station wagon and started driving north, to visit my brother and sister in New York.  We stopped for lunch just about an hour into the trip at spot where the road crossed over the Rappahannock River.  We parked along the side of the road, where a large convenient pullout vied in a battle of mixed messages with several prominent no parking signs.  I figured that if they had that many No Parking signs, there must have been something nice down there.  So we parked and followed a path down to a lovely sandy beach along the side of the river where we picnicked and splashed around before packing up and driving the rest of the way to the big city.  ImageAnd now I’m in New York, where I may try to do some more observaing, despite being in the midst of the greatest metropolitan area in the ol’ US of A.  We’ll see what the next few days have in store…

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

July 3- more rain . . . and more chanterelles!

Well, after some pretty impressive downpours on Tuesday afternoon, it rained all night and then some more in the morning just for good measure.  When I stepped outside, here’s what I found:  chanterelles!  So many of them!  Little red ones!  Big orange ones!  They’re popping up by the dozen all over the woods around here.  I didn’t get the opportunity to range far from my house, but here’s what I saw within a couple hundred yards or so of my back door:

The cinnibar red chanterelles are not very big, but they are so incredibly prolific right now that it’s worth the effort to reach down with a knife and slice off the largest of the lot.Image

Ho ho ho so many chanterelles– they’re so bright egg-yolky yellow, they just call out to you “pick me! eat me!”Image

In the afternoon, once the rain finally stopped, my son Sami got in on the fun– that boy was ready to pick some chanterelles (and at dinnertime he was ready to eat some too)!Image

The intermittent creek behind my house was flowing with plenty of water.  We spent an enjoyable hour splashing around and playing “intrepid explorer” all up and down the creek.Image

Sami floating leaves in the green green forest.Image

Not sure what these plants are, but the remind me of the Taro plants that I used to plant in Hawaii when I was gardening with my brother.  They’re certainly enjoying all the rain.Image

As we ventured up through the creek, we discovered numerous springs in the side of the creekbed where cold clear rainwater came trickling out of underground grottoes.  Sami was especially fascinated by these subterranean ‘rivers.’Image

not to mention, there were dozens and dozens of little red chanterelles growing in the moss all along the side of the creek.  Image

As we explored, we found many of these little jelly mushrooms, which according to various guidebooks are called ochre club fungi, jelly cap, or just jelly babies.  I think I like “jelly babies” the best.   Like many of the gelatinous mushrooms, they fall into the broad category of mushrooms that are technically edible, but reportedly without much taste, and I’m certainly not too tempted to try them.Image

They are pretty cute, though.Image

When I got home, I cleaned off the day’s pickings.  Not bad, considering I never went more than a couple hundred yards from my door, and spent more time splashing around in the creek than actively searching for chanterelles.  Such beautiful, tasty treats!Image

June 27 – A thousand words…

…the worth of a photo, as they say.  Today, I foolishly left the card of my camera in the computer, where I had been downloading images for a previous post.  So, on my daily outing when I reached to take a photo, I got the dreaded “No memory card” message.  I guess I’ll just have to describe the day with some evocative prose.

My friend Sherri is visiting from Montana, with her many children.  She was interested in seeing some Virginia nature, maybe some big ol’ east coast forests.  I had been planning on a trip to Montpelier to see the old-growth woods there.  Then I looked at the forecast–93 degrees and muggggggggy!  So I re-thought the outing, and decided it would make more sense to head to Shenandoah to spend the day splashing around in one of the many cold clear creeks that tumble out of the mountains.  On the morning of our big adventure, we awoke to an oddly persistent fog and drizzle, even up to the time when, on a hot summer day, we should start feeling the heat.  I was sure it was just a morning fluke, so we piled all of her and my kids into a big ol’ Suburban, and we set off through the gloom.  As we got a bit closer to the mountains, the temperature dropped and the sun remained resolutely hidden.  At the last moment, as we passed the intersection for Montpelier, I decided to postpone the splashin’ around in the creek until we got a better idea of whether the weather held any sunshine for us.

So we made an hour-long detour to Montpelier, where the kids enjoyed an epic game of hide-and-seek in the formal walled garden.  A nice feature of this garden is that you can relax on a grassy slope overlooking the carefully cropped hedges and planted beds of flowers inside the wall, while looking out to the very Virginian horse pastures and wooded hills & mountains off in the distance.  The low gray sky and intermittent drizzle made me feel like I was in England, or in Maine.  It definitely felt more like a northern New England day than central Virginia.  Once the kids had managed to burn off a few thousand calories of energy, I tried leading everyone on a short walk through the nearby old-growth forest, but all the young-uns were totally amped up and screaming, and it just seemed wrong to bring such frantic screamy energy into such a peaceful place as the Montpelier woods.  Plus, my younger son was starting to pester me about when we were going to go to the mountains, so we all went back to the enormous SUV and kept on truckin’ .

It took another 45 minutes or so to get to the trailhead, and by that point the kids were literally bouncing off of eachother and the inside of the truck.  The trailhead I had chosen, Graves Mill, is an obscure one;  it had been about 12 years since I was last there, and there was no signage anywhere until the moment you reach the parking area, where a tiny country lane dead-ends at a wall of trees.  I had to stop and consult the atlas a few times to make sure I wasn’t getting us all lost.  As soon as we killed the engine, hordes of children leapt out and began chasing one another up and down the trail.  I was greatly relieved to see we were the only vehicle at the trailhead, and didn’t have to worry about disturbing anyone’s “wilderness experience.”  The trail here follows the headwaters of the Rapidan River, which is more of a big creek than a river this far up.  The water was, as advertised, clear and cold, with lots of little cascades and waist-deep pools; there was a lovely spot with a gravel beach just about 100 yards in where we had a picnic while the kids climbed on the rocks, narrowly avoiding (I hope) extensive patches of poison ivy and stinging nettle.  There was still no sun and the temperature never broke 75 all day, but having come this far, nothing was  going to stop us from splashing and wading in and out of the creek, up and down little waterfalls, over and around mossy boulders.  Altogether, we never made it more than a half-mile from the van, but covering trail distance on a day like this was entirely beside the point.  It was enjoyable hiking with a friend from the western US, pointing out oak, maple, tulip, and beech trees that grow far larger than any deciduous trees in Montana, and always a treat to spend a summer day splashing and swimming, even if it felt more like early May than the end of June .  Toward the end of the afternoon, we even got a few minutes of direct sunlight.

I was, as always, hoping to encounter some fungal treasures, but wasn’t able to see much.  In contrast with the woods at Twin Oaks, which have some underbrush but you can usually see the forest floor, the forests of Shenandoah present a wall of greenery, layers of shrubs, vines, and ground cover.  In many places, it’s hard to see more than 10 feet off of the path.  I think this is even more the case where the trail follows an old road, as is the case with many of the low-elevation creekside trails I’ve been hiking lately.  There could be dozens of mushrooms within 50 feet of the trail, and you could walk right by without seeing anything but wall of green.  Our most interesting find was a pair of brownish yellowish boletes which, when broken open, immediately turned an intense shade of bright blue.

Driving home through late afternoon sunlight, the bright greens of Virginia farm and mountain, the views that were hidden by mist on our way in suddenly so vivid, I felt very pleased and satisfied with the aesthetic qualities of the state I’ve chosen to live in.  It’s more of a pastoral beauty, lacking the dramatic untouched wildernesses of New England or out west.  Still, the countryside just east of Shenandoah park sure is easy on the eyes in the slanted light of a bright summer afternoon after weeks and weeks of rain.  Not a bad day, I just wish I had thought to bring a working camera…

June 25 – heat & bolete

So, this  past Tuesday was the hottest day we’ve had yet this year, the first day that was already kind of muggy as soon as I woke up, and got downright sweltering by midday.  I’m sure that in a month, a day like this will feel refreshing by contrast, but I haven’t quite built up my tolerance for sweaty sweaty heat yet this year.

Here’s one of the mushrooms that’s been popping up all over the place during the past few days.  I’ve seen a lot of them that are all withered and smushy and nasty, this is the first one I’ve managed to pick/photograph that was in really good shape.  I’m pretty sure it’s a Blusher mushroom, one of the very few species of edible Amanita.  Most of the websites/guides I’ve looked at say that it is edible (and some claim that it’s quite good), but all caution that you should be 100% sure it’s not a different species of Amanita, some of which are deadly poisonous.  Although I’m quite sure of the ID, I think I’ll still pass on eating it.Image

Here’s another pair, which I spotted early on Tuesday AM, before loading the tofu truck.Image

As I was leaving the warehouse to drive to C’ville, I spotted this enormous bolete on the side of the road.  Given the size, I can only imagine it was one of the prized  King Boletes, the king of mushrooms, as I don’t think any other boletes grow this big.Image

I mean, seriously, this was as big as my hand (7 inches from thumb to pinky).  Unfortunately it was riddled with bugs, and not even remotely edible in that state.  I’ve found a few king boletes around here, but none that weren’t full of bugs and worms.Image

When I got home from delivery, I had a couple hours before band practice; I thought about going for a long hike, but it was so hot that I just passed out  in a puddle of sweat.  When I woke up, I realized that I just had about 45 minutes left, so I shook myself awake and set out into the woods.  The first thing I came across was this fascinating/horrifying/beautiful/disgusting sight.  Some recently dead mammalian-type critter skull, with punk rock hair, covered with flesh-eating roach-like beetles.  Was I still asleep, having some sort of horrible nightmare?!?Image

It was so hot in the woods, I walked down to the creek and splashed through it’s knee-deep water, enjoying the contrast of bright sunshine on the ferns above and dark subterranean tree roots below.Image

Here’s the place where the two branches of the creek come together.  It’s interesting to see how the waters on the right side have pushed down all the light-colored rock and the rock on the left side is so dark.  It reminds me of the place in the Amazon where the Amazon and Rio Negro rivers come together.  Although much, much less impressive. Image

Soon enough, it was time to climb out of the creek and head up to band practice.  Along the way, I came across another large Bolete, which I’m guessing was another Boletus edulis.  Unfortunately, this one was also filled with extra protein.  I’m hoping that at some point this year, I manage to find one that I can sample, as I hear it is really one of the very tastiest mushrooms out there!Image