Some real warmth is finally here, and warmth plus rain means hidden networks of tiny fungus filaments in the forest floor are popping out mushrooms. I’ve already paid tribute to the variety and strange, sometimes slimy beauty of these little toadstools here and here, but still the Ozarks have new kinds to show me, including the above beauties at the entrance of a Devil’s Den State Park cave.
I hope you had a good Memorial Day weekend — thanks for stopping by.
It’s time for another verse in my ode to those diverse, colorful and often unnoticed decomposers of the forest: mushrooms. If you’d like to read more about them, check out my first fungus hunt. Otherwise, take a look at some Devil’s Den gems for a little break from the madness in the news. There’s also a spider making its web, because it’s neat. Thanks for looking, everybody.
It’s technically not summer yet, but we’re not wasting any time. June’s bringing the heat, the mosquitoes and the humidity thick enough to see clouds’ shadows in the air even at midday.
Humid evenings are part of my definition of summer, because so many memories are tied to walking around in them: walking around neighborhoods with my dad during the Fourth of July, walking home from a run, walking back to the dorm from college band camp. The summer solstice is the 21st, but humid evenings mark the season enough for me.
I took my camera to Fayetteville’s First Thursday, a combo art walk and festival at the square. The light was dying at the time. I’ve shot so many photos there, I started to wonder if I’d make anything new and worth sharing. Stupid thing to think, really — the question is catching the new things, not whether they’ll be there in the first place. I relaxed and let some images reveal themselves. They might still be mediocre, but I hope I caught a spark here and there.
Other than that, I have a few shots of the local wildlife of my apartment complex, including an odd little display from another orchard orb weaver. You know I couldn’t resist when I saw a ring of 6-inch-wide mushrooms.
Thanks for looking,
We have a complicated relationship with fungus. We eat some kinds of it and bake or ferment with others, while other types are lethally poisonous. Even the name “fungus” sends my mind straight to gross and slimy. Fungi are an essential group of life forms — perhaps millions of species that keep nutrients flowing through entire ecosystems — and because of their work, they’ll always be connected to disease and death. Besides all of that, they can be too inconspicuous to notice. But they’re always there.
I drove down today to the old standby hiking area, Devil’s Den State Park, hoping to see if the rivers and waterfalls would be high and fast from the deluge that has soaked Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas in recent weeks. The streams here were fairly strong, but a day or so without the constant rain had calmed them down. What caught my eye instead were dozens of mushrooms — sparks of color in the otherwise constant green, if you can find them.
Fungi are neither plant nor animal, though they’re closer to the latter. Some disturbing varieties get their energy from living things, but most absorb nutrition from leaf litter and whatever else settles to the forest floor. What you can see in these photos is the proverbial tip of the iceberg; a much bigger network of threads and tendrils lies in the log or dirt beneath, occasionally sending up the visible segments to release spores. This lattice can carry on for thousands of years in some cases, just doing its thing unbothered by the surface world.
Outside of the world of fungi, it was a good day for a hike, and I wasn’t the only one out there.
Thanks for looking!