Autumn WalkViki Mather September 1, 2010
September arrives in a shower…and the showers continue through the month. This year, it will still take a lot of showers to make up for the hot, dry summer. Meanwhile, the mushrooms rejoice, the maples begin to dress in red and yellow for the last dance of the year.
I picked up my mushroom basket, and set off into the drizzly morning. Each step deeper into the forest was met with a deep breath in, and a deep sigh out. As I walked, I relaxed, and released the tensions held in too long. Tiny, shiny, goldthread leaves carpeted the forest floor. Three deep-green, scalloped leaves supported on slender short stems – each little plant grows less than two inches across.
Their golden roots thread their way through the soil. Further along, two big brick-red mushrooms stood tall in the middle of the trail. Beauties they were, fine big Leccinums, a little damp from the rain, but good enough to put into my basket.
Indian pipes stood tall and black at the side of the trail. These brought memories of summer, now past. Back in August these little flower stalks were brilliant white. A ruffed grouse suddenly rose from the forest floor, noisily flying through the trees and deeper into the woods.
A passing breeze in the trees above rustled with a quiet hush, shaking off the raindrops. That whisper of wind moved on to another part of the forest. I listened to the quiet that followed.
Shhhh…..in the distance.
I came to a place in the trail where two trees fell earlier this summer. Both their tops landed squarely in my path. I picked my way around and through them, then stopped for a little rest.
It’s hard to see the detail of the forest while walking. From my stone seat I looked more closely. The forest floor is full of green and growing things. With all the rain, the dead wood in the forest is full of fungal fruitings.
A small polypore caught my attention. Just an inch across, it sprouted from a fallen poplar branch. It rose a quarter inch from the wood, then fanned out in tiny bands. The top was a creamy tan, but below were pale shades of lilac. The delicacy of colour matched the delicacy of its little life.
My pace had been fast when I left home, now on the return trip I moved more slowly. I noticed more on the way back: honey mushrooms are up, amanitas, coral mushrooms, slippery jacks, puffballs, and lots and lots of LBMs (little brown mushrooms). I gathered a few of the ones that I know.
Always overhead, the breeze in the trees, the quiet hush of the forest. Peace.