I don’t like summer. It’s too hot, too dry. The air fills with the smoke of forest fires. Water levels in the rivers run low, too low. The grass turns dry and crisp, and every step in the dirt sends up a puff of dust. This year especially felt like it had a long, hot summer.
But fall seemed to arrive early. Just like that, the hot days vanished. Just like that, the leaves of the trees started to turn colour and fall. I can remember raking leaves in November in past years, but this year they will likely be nearly gone by the end of October. When summers are very dry, stressed trees will begin to drop their leaves early.
And there are fungi. Mushrooms. With the occasional rains and the dewy mornings of fall, they start pushing their way out of the ground. Large, white mushrooms are everywhere in our yard. These mushrooms are not the most beautiful members of the Fungi Kingdom. They grow in masses, piling up on top of each other, individuals becoming misshapen as they grow around each other and any obstacles in their path. Nothing stands in the way of these mushrooms. They even grow between the bricks that edge our flowerbeds. Eventually, they turn black and rot, filling the yard with an aroma that makes me think a large animal must have died somewhere close by.
Did I mention that I love mushrooms? I do, and I look for them everywhere. On a hike at the beginning of October, the forest seemed to be filled with all sorts of fungi (the photos in this post are from that hike), from different kinds of mushrooms to the bracket fungi that grow on trees and rotting logs. They’re a good thing to look for at this time of year, when the leaves are falling, the wildflowers and butterflies are mostly gone, and many birds have migrated south. Dana recently wrote an excellent post on her blog in which she described the concept of “mushroom eyes” and how to observe nature more fully. I love that term, “mushroom eyes.” Pick one thing (whether it be mushrooms, butterflies, birds, or anything else) and you start to see it everywhere. You see it in places where before you might have seen nothing. It’s rather exciting, as you discover that there’s all this stuff out there that you never saw before.
I’m still a mushroom-eyes novice. I’m not so good at identifying different species yet. I’ve never gathered wild mushrooms to eat (not a good thing to do if you’re not experienced with identification and able to distinguish the edible species from any similar poisonous species). But few things at this time of the year make me happier than the sight of a mushroom growing amidst the forest floor humus and leaf litter.
P.S. Apparently, fall is also the time for blogging again.