Snow drops are long gone, lilacs faded, peonies swollen to near bursting.
These bleeding hearts punctuate the yard as green now assumes its full summer presence, fleshing out leaves, filling woods, surfacing meadows as first cutting, late this year, nears.
Finally sun this week, respite from days on end of cold May rain. Seeing so many Mays, some damp and chill, some near tropical, makes one somewhat patient for Summer to express herself, reveal which demeanor this year she’ll assume.
Some Summers keep us pale skinned and fleeced almost the whole time that they’re around. Some leave feet, mostly bare or shod in flip flops through Dog Days, sole toughened and tan lined.
Recently a friend stopped by in my driveway and said “Hey, want a mushroom?”
“Sure!” I replied, knowing that in addition to being a renowned watercolorist and fisherman, he was an avid mushroom hunter.
He must have seen the look of uncertainty on my face when he revealed the hen-of-the-woods from the darkness of his auto trunk.
“Just rinse it as you would any other mushroom, and check the nooks and crannies for any critters that may have taken up residence. Slice, saute, and enjoy!”
The mushroom sat in the fridge for a day. I tried to think of neighbors knowledgeable of such things to whom I could pass on the mushroom. But realizing this as an opportunity to step out of my comfort zone (I had never knowingly eaten a wild mushroom), I followed my friend’s instructions, and gently fried the mushrooms in olive oil, wine, and some lemon juice.
The result? Magnificent! The taste of the mushroom was somewhat like store-boughten mushroom, with a delightful hint of gaminess. The texture made one think they were eating meat – very satisfying.
I enjoyed some of the mushroom immediately after cooking it, added some to a fresh vegetable soup I was making, and put a bit in the freezer hoping that some early winter evening, I’ll bust out the rest of that mushroom from the freezer, and enjoy a taste of a sunny, early autumn day.
Excerpted From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
“Grifola frondosa is a polypore mushroom that grows in clusters at the base of trees, particularly oaks. The mushroom is commonly known among English speakers as hen of the woods, hen-of-the-woods, ram’s head and sheep’s head. It is typically found in late summer to early autumn. In the United States’ supplement market, as well as in Asian grocery stores, the mushroom is known by its Japanese name maitake (舞茸, “dancing mushroom”). Throughout Italian American communities in the northeastern United States, it is commonly known as the signorina mushroom…
The fungus is native to the northeastern part of Japan and North America, and is prized in traditional Chinese and Japanese herbology as a medicinal mushroom, an aid to balance out altered body systems to a normal level. It is widely eaten in Japan, and its popularity in western cuisine is growing, although the mushroom has been alleged to cause allergic reactions in rare cases.”
These Jerusalem artichokes, also called sunroot, sunchoke, earth apple or topinambour, appear every Summer about now. Though the mercury continues to toy with 90F, siting these blooms cools me right off.
Bright yellow seems to mark the zenith of the Summer. From here on out, there will be more yellow flowers, then goldenrods, then oak, butternut, and aspen leaves will admit to the onset of Autumn.
Though continuing to enjoy these Dog Days while keeping an eye out for Sirius and the Pleides, mind continues to drift to Winter.
Now, walking outside one almost feels the hot moisture in the air pressing on one’s chest. All it takes is a short walk past the refrigerator, opening the freezer door, and a deep inhalation to remind us of how Winter feels.
In a few more months, a big breath out the open back door will afford the same sensation.
The last week of July finished with day after day after day of 90+ degree weather.
The Rose of Sharon has become prominent; the tall yellow sunflowers as well.
These colors are harbingers of change. The days now are around the same length as they were in April. Each one shorter; each one closer to ski season.
Meanwhile, wander over to Forest City Friday the 5th, and Saturday the 6th for “Old Home Dayz” celebration, even if you’re not from around here.
Wear a smile, say hello to as many folks as you can, and experience why so many of us so enjoy living here on the hill, ‘far from the madding crowd’, near a city ‘so named being settled in heavy forests’.
Region: Eastern/northeastern North America. From northeast Canada, as far south as the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, and as far west as the great plains (Michigan is the furthest west point where the subspecies has been collected).
Habitat: Mycorrhizal primarily with conifers, but can also occur with some deciduous trees.
Volval material is cream-colored
The cap ranges from orange to yellow-orange, much paler than with typical var. flavivolvata, even in young specimens
This eastern North American species is often mis-named as Amanita muscaria var. formosa, and not without good reason. It is essentially a formosa-like variant of the North American clade of the muscaria group.
DNA studies have not yet shown that all guessowii are descended from a single ancestor, and its possible that the yellow cap is simply a common polymorhism in eastern fly agarics. Therefor it’s possible that the term var. guessowii will become obsolete, and the mushroom will simply be known as the yellow form of Amanita amerimuscaria. If it can be demonstrated that this variety is monophyletic (descends from a single ancestor), then it would likely be renamed to Amanita amerimuscaria var. guessowii.
Yup, there ya have it, a bleeding heart liberal flower. In interest of equality, I had searched for an equally conservative representative from the flora world, but none came to mind.
There is a danger in labelling objects and people: once labeled, our curiosity in an object tends to diminish. Once labeled a “liberal” one may tend to overlook that the flower is also pink and beautiful.
Particularly in these times of comparison, contrast, and debate of candidate’s values, it is good to try to remain observant and curious rather than overconfident and judgemental.
A recent morning ramble through the neigborhood took me past fungus, earthworms, hawks, turkey buzzards, lily pads, cat tails, beaver dens, leaves beginning to turn – all under a spectacular September cloudless sky.
The route walked was the same followed usually in an auto, or when jogging. The slower pace of a walk allowed me to notice and savor these critters and plants.
As many of our lives are compelled to a frenetic pace, the abundance that surrounds us is often overlooked. I took the same route I usually follow, but at a much slower pace.
You might want to try something similar, taking a familiar route at an unfamiliar pace, and see if it becomes easier to notice the beauty in which we are immersed, and, of which, we are a part.
From: Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bracket_fungus
“Bracket fungi, or shelf fungi, are among the many groups of fungi that comprise the phylum Basidiomycota. Characteristically, they produce shelf- or bracket-shaped or occasionally circular fruiting bodies called conks that lie in a close planar grouping of separate or interconnected horizontal rows. Brackets can range from only a single row of a few caps, to dozens of rows of caps that can weigh several hundred pounds. They are mainly found on trees (living and dead) and coarse woody debris, and may resemble mushrooms. Some form annual fruiting bodies while others are perennial and grow larger year after year. Bracket fungi are typically tough and sturdy and produce their spores, called basidiospores, within the pores that typically make up the undersurface.”