Sunday, August 5, 2012

I Wouldn't Eat That If I Were You

[probably Amanita jacksonii, photographed 8/4/12, Chatham Co., NC]

Someone told me that the "body" of a mushroom is huge, sometimes extending underground for several acres. What we see of the creature is just the moment when it puts up mushrooms. Seems like the critter I photoed yesterday is definitely part of a family--there are several rows of these guys, separated by probably at least a hundred feet, in the woods near the house. We've had a good deal of rain, and very hot temperatures. Yesterday it was just barely at a level where I felt like weedeating some in the late afternoon--fighting back a bit of the jungle. I was still wet by the end, but I didn't find any ticks on me--a definite improvement over early this summer--only a couple of little bites on my leg, maybe chiggers or whatever... nothing horrible.

We saw a little antlered deer in the yard yesterday. I should have taken a pic of that. The kitties watched it with extreme seriousness from the window--as much seriousness as they watched a moth this morning.

The mimosa trees--a terrible mistake I made fifteen years ago--have had their yearly orgy, and if I don't get out there with a chainsaw we'll have a dang forest of the worthless things before long. Here's a pic of a satiated mimosa, enjoying a cigarette and a beer no doubt.

It's close to that moment when what seems without a doubt to be "fall light" appears. Maybe it's today. There's a way the shadows fall. It's also the moment when, since Hurricane Fran back in '96, it feels like Hurricane Season is on us. I keep waiting for the coverage to start--the tracking of tropical depressions chaining across the Atlantic from Africa. They all get names, and trajectories. Some years it seems like they all march into the Gulf. When that's happening it seems looking at the map so obvious that the Gulf draws them in, that the idea of one of them coming up here seems highly unlikely. Other years, the big shallow bay which is the southern half of the NC coast, from Wilmington to Ocracoke, seems to be nothing less than a big catcher's mitt, and the strikes just keep coming, one after the other. There was a time when weather prognosticators thought all hurricanes had to turn north at Florida because of the earth's spin. It was in this epoch that the great Galveston hurricane occurred, killing thousands, including a whole trainload of folks from Houston who were going down there for a day at the beach because no one who spoke English realized the big storm was coming. (Spanish-speaking weather forecasters in Cuba knew different, but we'd just defeated Spain and controlled Cuba, and we weren't gonna let no Cubans tell us whats what.)

Here's a string of our fungii friends, looking just like a hurricane map of the western Atlantic:

I think depicted below is also the same mushroom as the one I started this out with--that as they age and expand the red is diffused into orange as in the "hurricane map," but sometimes things go a different way. I'm not sure of that. Here's one more pic of the red ones, this time "open" but not orange at all and so possibly a different species, even though this one occurs very close to the red caps:

Of course it's equally possible that the two red mushrooms are not related, or that the orange ones are yet another species. I love how the mushroom books tell you never to eat one unless you're certain of which kind it is. Not that that's not great advice. The red one that starts this post might be the kind of critter responsible of up to 90% of the mushroom eating deaths in the US each year. That's some significant info. But the word "certain" in that dictum. I hope nobody ever feeds me a plate of forest gathered 'shrooms and doesn't tell me till I've half-finished the deliciosity.

Meanwhile, of course, oblivous to the remarkable beauty of the day, the machinery grinds on. Here's a wonderful piece on that:

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