I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Monday, December 29, 2014

Yes, I'm kind of Fungophobic

Yesterday I returned home from celebrating Christmas with my family, in the Bay Area. It was fun, busy and enjoyable. So enjoyable, in fact, that I didn't take any pictures. I can't believe it. This is a first. There will be no photos of the wonderful dinner that my sister hosted, no pictures of the Beans playing with their new toys, not one selfie or close up of the other family members who were with us. I don't even know what to say. I left the camera in the car and NEVER used it.
I'm a failure as an event photographer. But, I had a great time and enjoyed my short visit.

On Wednesday, Christmas Eve day, I wrapped presents. I made a lemon Bundt cake, packed my stuff up and piled it all into the car for my trip on Christmas morning. But the first thing I did was to go for a hike.

 It was cold, foggy and beautiful.
At the top of the hill the fog lifted a little, so I just sat on a favorite downed log...
and spent some quiet time with mother nature.
This log is always covered with these wonderful Bracket fungi, or shelf fungi. 
This one is called Ganoderma. It can  grow large thick shelves that may contribute to the death of the tree, and then feed off the wood for years after. This tree has been laying here for years and these fungi are always here on it. Their hardiness means they are very resilient and can live a long time,  developing beautiful multi-coloured circles of color that are actually annual growth rings.

The Oaks are covered with many different mosses, lichens and tiny ferns, mostly on their north sides.
The Poison Oak vines uses the trees for support and climbs all over the trunks and into the branches,
... covering some trees like a corset. The trees that fell in the wind storm a couple of weeks ago, were old ones that didn't have the poison oak growing around them. I think the vine acts as a support system for the trees and give them strength against the winter weather.

I walked up the ridge to an Oak tree that I had noticed before, because it has a multitude of mushrooms underneath it. It's a healthy, average looking oak tree that, for some reason, has an abundance of different mushrooms growing below it.

I stepped lightly around the tree and took some pictures of the amazing assortment of mushrooms that live under this tree.
There are pretty brown ones that look very fragile and somewhat rubbery. Same with the little cap mushrooms behind this one. I think the little ones are called Deadly Galerina and they would kill you with their deadly toxin. But, I'm not sure.. and there lies the dilemma.
There are some that look like pretty rocks...
odd shaped potatoes?

These two, very different mushrooms, seem to be having a serious relationship.
But, they all look dangerous to me,
except for this one...
These are the most abundant kind that are growing under the tree.
This one starts growing up through the earth like a brown ball of leaves...
 Then you begin to see the white top.
 It carries the grass and leaves with it as it grows out of the ground.
Finally the mushroom looses its coat of leaves and becomes a rather good sized mushroom with a really white stem, white cap and yellow gills.
This one looks good enough to eat... but who knows.
The cap has a beautiful, undulating shape.
Many of the caps seem to be broken off...
..which would indicate that something has tried to eat them. I guess this could have happen when the mushroom was pushing through the ground, but it sure looks like a critter has taken a bite out of them.

The rain and sunshine is producing a lot of mushrooms this year. They're everywhere.
This one is on the slope behind our house.
It's a monster. It arrives every year. We never touch it.

I love looking for mushrooms. It's like a scavenger hunt and there are so many different  kinds.
I don't know what any of these mushrooms are and I would rather not think that I do. It's safer to take pictures of them than to make a decision about the good and bad ones, eat them and end up sick... or worse.
My Italian family knew which were OK. They showed me when I was little, gave me books, explained which was which... but still... I just don't trust myself to know.

This is a wonderful pastime... photographing mushrooms.
So I think I will just lay on the ground and watch them grow... and buy the good ones in the store.