The river has been staying up most of the week even though we have had several dry days interspersed with the down pours.
In the far ground you can see a small waterfall, that is actually water draining out of the hay field from the natural slopes of our not-so-flat ground.
It feels like typical fall with all the moisture and cooler weather, we have been seeing an increase in the bald eagles scouting along the river in search of the ocean salmon returning to their spawning ground.
Could it be that true winter could be far behind?
Leaves fluttered this way and that from the trees, the wind made them dance as they fell to the ground and swirled into piles.
The big leaf maples still have the most color with golden platter-sized foliage carpeting the ground. Within an hour or two of falling, the yolk-y color turns to a light brown. The bright red vine maples have slowly lost the vibrant glow and the curled leaves, the nearly opaque light brown edges curl as they drop to the ground.
The leaves on the alder trees are a much darker color. As their leaves drop into the water they turn the river to the hue of rich, black tea. It’s hard to see the rocky bottom or the salmon as they make their way upstream to spawn, but we know they are there because the Bald Eagles are back and are patrolling the river with intensity. A little wind does not slow their hunting routines.
The wind cleaned the last of the leaves off the black walnut trees and most of the pear, plum and apple trees in the garden. Only the very late fall apples have some leaves left on the branches as they try to protect the fruit that remains on the trees.
This day of blustery wind changed the beautiful fall colors to remind us that winter is only a breath away.
Since the Gator was in the shop, my right hand helper and I headed up the hill on foot to work along the skid road that Mike had punched through with the bulldozer.
Not needing to travel the logging roads, we took a walking path meandering through the forest with switchback paths and steep inclines. About half-way up the hill we intersected with one of the naturally growing wild mushroom patches and I found a few golden lovelies barely poking out of the carpet of fallen fir needles.
It was quite the surprise to find them because it usually takes a good inch or more of rain and 10 days of that soaking rain to sink into the mycelium layer below the surface for the mushrooms to grow.
I was thrilled to find these few chanterelles and harvested them for a sauce at dinner that night. Now with several days of rain forecasted for the area, the 10 day countdown will begin in earnest.
Especially after this month of exceptional moisture, the garden is looking exceptionally straggly. All summer squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, tomatillo, eggplant, along with the few fall strawberries and raspberries, have melted with all the rain that pelted them this whole month long.
The forest calls my name during this kind of weather and I tend to head out into the tall firs to hunt mushrooms when I get a break from fall to winter prep work. Besides, I would rather not have to slog through the garden with boots so thick with mud that it becomes impossible to even walk.
So I have been waiting for a dry spell to get out there for a garden cleanup, but that just doesn’t seem to be happening. The last time we had a dry day was spent getting all the lawn mowed and a few leaves picked up. Still, the leaves in the driveway continue to be washed with rain and ran over with each coming and going of cars, pickups, tractors and Gators. The garden will just have to wait for a little while before getting cleaned up before winter.
You may see a frantic post in a few weeks belying the fact that I am frustrated that I didn’t get the garden cleaned up sooner. I will appreciate it if you don’t remind me about this post when you read that I am sorry I waited.
After the weekend, the leaves had covered the driveway, the road and most surfaces. The big leaf maples had really sent a flurry of color falling during the weekend storms.
The driveway had been cleared before the storm and now this task will wait until the rain slows and I can again get out there to pick up the mess.
I’ve been spending time looking up. The leaves on the Black Walnut trees are starting to turn colors and are beginning to fall. We have several of these big, old trees. They were planted about 100 yards from the river more about 100 years ago. Their branches provide a shady spot for the cows to lounge and eat grass on hot summer days, squirrels and chipmunks scamper through their branches. They are taller than the big leaf maple trees but do not have stumps that are as big around.
The foliage on the black walnuts turn a bright yellow as they prepare to fall, it is still too thick up there to see if there will be a crop of nuts, but a series of several storms are lining up in the Pacific Ocean and it looks like we are going to get slammed with wind and rain for a couple of days. This year, we may miss seeing the leaves in their glory gold, the group of storms will leave these trees nearly bare. The nuts tend to hang on even through bad weather but it won’t be too many weeks before they start dropping(if there are any up there).
Until then, as I prepare for the upcoming weather, I’m going to enjoy the foliage while I can and hope you enjoy this tranquil pic also.
As you can see from the picture, this shelf mushroom dwarfs my work glove on the right.
This specimen is called Chicken of the Woods. The outer edges are rubbery and I have been told they are edible when very young and tender, and they do have a chicken-ish flavor. Since I have yet to speak to an actual person that has consumed this particular variety and will share an eating experience with me, this is one that I will stick to just photos for now.
This was the only mushroom I was able to find on my walk through the woods on this day even though we had some good rains roll through the area about 10 days ago. It appears that the woods were dry enough with the string of 100 degree days about a month ago that the showers were not enough to do any more than just dampen the surface. The woods feel dry and dusty as I walked along deer trails and through the understory of brush.
Now, I will have to wait for at least another week before edible wild mushrooms will pop up in the woods and I will begin to ‘hunt’ again.