Tag Archives: fungus

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

March 3– back at it…

Having taken a week off from my strolls in the woods, I went on a short outing this morning, to check up on the “state of the state,” if you will. This morning started out frosty (as has every morning recently), but was pretty pleasant by the time I got going. I can’t say much has changed out there, but all the same it was nice after a week hiatus to smell the woodsy smells, listen to the birdsy songs, all that good stuff.

Image

In the woods below Tupelo, I came across this weird black stuff growing on a downed branch, and also scattered on the ground nearby.  I’m not quite sure what it is, it didn’t smell like anything, and when I broke one of them open (see below), it defnitely appeared to be fungal in nature.  Weird.

Image

Image

Image

Later on, following a creekbed, I heard the sounds of tinkling, cascading water.  I looked around, but couldn’t locate the source– eventually, I found a little “cave” made up of a hollow spot under some tree roots, with water flowing out from underneath.  I reached my camera underneath, and took a photo of this cute little underground spring.Image

As I made my way back home, I crossed a recent clearing where we’re cutting back the woods to make room for a small fruit orchard.  Nothing has been planted yet, but rows of bare stick-like fruit trees and bushes are lined up in black plastic pots, waiting to go into the ground.  The trees have been cut as close to flush with the ground as possible, so there’s no stumps to trip over, I suppose.  I just liked the cool color patterns in the stump.

Image

Closer to home, I came across a field of daffodils, ever closer to blooming.  Although I’ve seen daffodils in flower in neighbor’s yards and in C’ville, the ones at Twin Oaks haven’t quite opened yet.  We have so many growing around here that, in a week or so, it’s going to be daffodil madness!

Image

Image

Finally, I returned home through my backyard, looking for signs of seasonal progress since the last time I checked a week ago.  For the most part, everything’s still pretty dormant, but there has been noticeable bud growth in the buds of blueberry plants, which look as though they could open up at any minute.  Nice to see so many buds, looks like we’re going to have plenty of berries this summer– yum!

ImageImage