Thursday, August 25, 2016

Fall from the Vine

Volunteer pumpkin vines unfurling in the fog.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Mushroom Monday

Periodic rain & heat has the forest alive with fungi, especially large and colorful mushrooms pepper the forest floor.

This purple hued mushroom was a treat. I think it may be a Silvery-Violet Cort but I'm not sure.

Gem Studded Puffball with guest

Edibles - Smooth Chanterelles & Indigo Milky Mushrooms



Monday, August 8, 2016

Mushroom Monday: Faerie Rings

It is always a genuine thrill to find a ring of mushrooms in the forest. Though they are purported to be portals to the Faerie Realm, through which one might enter, never to return, or to return years later, I always risk it, usually to record the marvelous phenomenon with my trusty camera. The faeries had, however, set their poison ivy snares all around this ring. There is much folklore about faerie rings, differing from country to country and changing throughout time. This article HERE is great at exploring all of these myths & legends. One of the more common beliefs about the rings is that they are a place where faeries dance in the round, holding festivities. It's also believed that it is best not to disturb these rings. Oddly enough, the ring in my woods, beneath a towering cedar tree, arose on the evening of August 1st, which happens to be the Celtic Festival Day of Lughnasadh (or Lunasa). Lunasa marks the beginning of harvest, halfway between the summer solstice and the autumn equinox, and a time for celebrating the Earth and it's magnificent ways. Perhaps there were faeries celebrating the coming of Autumn. I'm sure ready for it.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Mushroom Monday

Today the rain falls in sheets, thunder rolls. The dark, gray, & wet is such a welcome sight here in the Midwest, rolling in on the heals of a hot, hot, dry, cloudless week. The following fungi were sighted weeks ago already, now shriveled to oblivion. But after the rain today (more expected this week) there will surely be others to discover soon.

My guess is this from the Amanita family: a young Yellow Patches

Not sure what species these guys are (possibly Reddening Lepiota) but often find them in pairs or small families.

Perhaps the same species as above though color is whiter. A lovely little family.

These lovely edibles, Indigo Milky Mushrooms, were back for a short while.

See how they hide! You must sneak up on them.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Midsummer Menagerie

Summer is arriving in a bright, heavy cloak of humid heat. Today's solstice will mark the longest day of the year, the official first day of Summer, but Midsummer in the ancient Celtic calendar (May Day marking the first of summer). I prefer to see it as Midsummer, because summer is most definitely not my favorite season. It brings many gifts and I always try to embrace it and be thankful for the warmth and sunshine I know I'll miss come winter. Summer certainly showers us with blooms and colors galore, plus fruits and vegetables (and bugs!). Here's hoping summer is robust but not void of cloud, breeze, and rain. Happy Summering.


Purple Coneflower - Echinacea

Queen Anne's Lace

Prickly Pear Cactus Bloom

Prickly Pear Cactus - the green between blooms and pads turn into red fruits (prickly pears)

Native Prickly Pear Cactus

Wild Bergamot

Chipmunk Lunchtime

Friday, June 10, 2016

Wild Bergamot

One of my favorite Missouri wildflowers, this is wild bergamot, monarda fistulosa.
I dry the leaves and use them in tea, usually to flavor some black tea. It has a similar taste as Earl Grey. This is a wild relative of Bee Balm and like its name, this morning it was visited by many bumble bees and some lovely sunlight.   

Monday, May 30, 2016

Mushroom Monday

The rains have returned after a relatively dry spring. It has ushered in the humidity I've lived with my whole life but never gotten used to, as well as the return of my favorite fungi! Let the mushrooming begin!
A bending beauty at the base of cedar tree.

This tiny triplet was probably only an inch tall.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Splendors of Sylvan Shade

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
-Robert Frost
The lush woods, dark clouds, & bright sun of these wet spring days have been creating a magic light.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Ramble Around Ireland #12: Roscommon Castle

All in a day, we stopped at along the rugged coast of Mullaghmore, Sligo and three ruins that were all closed for renovation/repair (Ballymote Castle, Boyle Abbey, & Ballinafad Castle). It is a bit discouraging to drive out of the way, via remote byways, only to discover you cannot explore your destination. And since we aren't the kind to climb over fences or ignore literal "Danger" signs, there's nothing we can do about these road blocks but move on. And so we did.
Mullaghmore Coastal Drive - You should almost always take the coastal drive. There is always somewhere to park and get out and explore. Slippery but splendid.

Ballinafad Castle Caution

Onward to Roscommon Castle, a huge ruin of a 13th century Norman castle. It is nearly in the middle of town, but tucked away just enough and is situated next to a park and pond.

Roscommon Castle

Roscommon Castle

Stairway to nowhere at Roscommon Castle

Roscommon Castle

Roscommon Castle

Friday, May 13, 2016

Ramble Around Ireland #11:
Grianan of Aileach

Entrance from Interior of Fort
From our base in Derry, we took a loop north to the ancient stone fort, the Grianan of Aileach, which I have no idea how to pronounce. It is just about 30 minutes from town. One my of go-to travel tips is to snap a picture of the information boards at historical sights. It is a great way keep information and I usually trust this information more than what I find online, as it's been researched, written, and approved by some historical board or council that cares for the sight. The Grianan of Aileach is an incredible site, with strategic & stunning views. I'll let my photos and the info boards do most of the talking for it.

(It is worth checking out Guarding Grianan Aileach , which is a very cool site tracking the solar & lunar alignment of the fort with such fabulous photos!)

A Holy Well just below the fort