It’s that time of year again. The roots of the trees that used to be in our back yard are home to a few varieties of fungus. This time of year, they send up their fruiting bodies and spread their spores to the wind. The most plentiful are these soft brown mushrooms. They come up and are there for a day or two and then turn to mush. Insects of one kind or another lay their eggs in them and the larvae eat the rotting mushrooms. They’re actually pretty gross when in that state, but right now they are sort of pretty.
A mushroom walks into a bar. The bartender says, “We don’t serve mushrooms here.” The mushroom replies, “But I’m a fungi!”
I was a little worried about sitting through church this morning but my back tolerated sitting for long enough that it wasn’t a problem. We were happy to see some friends that visited the church a few weeks ago come back again today. After church we walked to the Stadtman Preserve next door to see what was going on there. They’ve been renovating the mid-century modern house that the Stadtmans build and lived in and it’s nice to see the progress. There were naked lady’s (Amaryllis belladonna) in bloom and I got a few photos of this little brown and white caterpillar. I have no idea what sort of creature it is. I’m going to guess a moth but I won’t go any farther than that.
Molothrus ater (Brown-headed Cowbird)
This isn’t as sharp a picture as I’d like but it’s what I was able to get today. Actually, I got pictures of three different birds today. This one, of a brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater) in the birdbath, a Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis), and a House Wren (Troglodytes aedon). The wren picture is sharper but I thought I had a better chance of re-photographing the wren, so I went with this one. The lack of sharpness is partially due to the low light and the fact that I had to crop the image to get this close, but a small part is due to the movement of the bird. As you can see by the water droplets in the air all around the bird, it is shaking water off of itself, taking a bath.
Peck’s Skipper (Polites peckius)
It was dark and raining this morning and into the early afternoon but by 5:00 PM or so the sun was out and it was a beautiful day. I wouldn’t actually have minded the clouds staying around because our air conditioner has called it quits and a little less direct sun would have been welcome. Still, it was nice to get out and look for insects to photograph. This little fellow, a Peck’s skipper (Polites peckius), was on some blue mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum) in the front garden. I also got some pictures of an eastern tailed-blue (Cupido comyntas) but they weren’t very sharp. Quite shy, those little blues.
As mentioned, we went to a wedding reception yesterday for Dorothy’s friend, Kendra. Dorothy flew down on Friday evening and then today we drove her back up to Massachusetts and will be with her for the week. I say “with her” but we’ll be staying in an airbnb in Gloucester, about 25 minutes from the home she’s living in for the summer. After we arrived and got our things into the cottage, we went to see the garden Dorothy’s been growing this summer. While Cathy and Dorothy watered and did a little weeding, I relaxed in the shade and then took a few pictures. It was a long day (about 10 hours on the road) and I needed a break. The garden is in the yard of the aunt and uncle of one of Dorothy’s friends and there is a box full of acorns in the yard. That’s the subject for today’s picture.
Outside my office, between the parking lot and the woods, there are a half dozen wooden picnic tables, stacked one on top of the other. They are chained together, presumably to keep any of them from wondering off (as it were). The chain is a little the worse for being out in the weather all the time. I didn’t really test it of course, and for all I know it’s still strong enough to stand up to average abuse. Nevertheless, it looks a bit weakened and a strong piece of iron inserted between the sides of a link and twisted might snap the chain quite easily.
You can’t really call them corks when they aren’t made of cork. Note that box on the right, which says “Corks” on it actually contains real corks, made from the bark of the cork oak (which should be called Quercus corkus but is actually Quercus suber). These brown stoppers are made of gum rubber and are good for all sorts of stoppering needs. These are in a drawer in a small cabinet that has a fairly wide variety of things in it. As you can see, a few of them have holes cut through them. Dad used them in his home lab and I’ve found a few uses for them myself, over the years.
The buddleia blooms are long gone and with them the butterflies and bees. It’s been cold enough that the insects that live through the winter as adults have all gone to ground and those that don’t are returning to dust. The colors of summer are gone and the colors of fall have faded into brown and grey. But the buddleia bushes still have some interesting features. Where the flower clusters were there are now mostly empty seed capsules. I think they are pretty, especially close up.
There is, as the saying goes, a fungus among us. Ever since we cut down the large tree in the center of our back yard we’ve had these mushrooms pop up from time to time. The fungus is there all the time, of course, helping break down the wood in the now dead roots. The mushrooms, the fruiting body of that fungus, appear from time to time to remind us that their job continues. I have no idea if these mushrooms are edible or not. I really should find out because if they are, we could have a fairly easy supply. They appear in variously sized clumps up to almost a foot across but only last a day or two and then they are gone. I didn’t have my glasses on when I was taking these pictures, so I didn’t notice all the little bits of grass, which I would otherwise have picked off. Cathy had just finished cutting the grass but mowed around these so I could get my pictures.