Tall brittle stems – photo by H. Valey
This fall has been unusually wet for us in the Texas Hill Country. We’re going on our 4th week of showers. Our hot 90 + degree weather has nicely evened out in the low 80’s and the plants that didn’t get much of a chance to flourish in the summer due to our unusually dry spring are now making up for lost time. Everything is green and pretty. The extended moisture and warm temperatures are also bringing with them a host of interesting mushrooms almost everywhere you look.
The mushroom is much maligned. As children we are taught to not touch them and definitely do not eat them. There are only about 70 to 80 species of fatally poisonous mushrooms, but a lot of them look a lot like ones that aren’t poisonous, so if you are going to forage for mushrooms you have to know exactly what you are looking for. However it isn’t going to hurt you to look for mushrooms or touch them for that fact… just don’t put them in your mouth or smell them. Don’t let this scare you into not taking the time to appreciate them visually. These organisms can be useful, beautiful, weird and extremely interesting.
In The Sidewalk Crack photo by H. Valey
The mushroom is the fruit of fungi. The fungi live in soil (or in their food source: wood, leaves, etc. ). When a mushroom sprouts up, it will then spread its spores out into the air and surrounding ground. Most of the spores will die, but some will land in an area where there is nutrients and they will become fungi in the soil thus starting the process all over.
Some basic mushroom anatomy. The cap is known as the pilious and the stalk, the stipe. Mushrooms are typically either gilled or polyporous. Most mushrooms have gills. Polyporous mushrooms have pores or little tubes. (see picture below).
Mushroom with Pores
Mushroom with Gills
Here are some links to more information on mushrooms:
Here are is a fun gallery of some of the mushrooms I’ve seen this fall. Enjoy!
Sometimes I find teachers in my garden. The garden is never the same from day to day. It deserves a good look at least once in the morning, because what is there then may not be there when I get home in the evening. Sometimes I tell myself, when I see a flower and want to linger on it, “You don’t have time, You can do that later.” But almost always when I come back it is not the same. Something has changed… either the flower is completely gone, or the light is hitting it differently, or maybe its been chewed on. What I’ve learned in the garden is this. Every moment is unique. Nothing is permanent, so if you see something special, honor the moment and let yourself stop and drink it in.
The garden also teaches non-attachment. One such example happened recently with Monarch caterpillars. One day there were 2 happily munching on milkweed. They looked like they were in their 5th instar and I was excited to see them form into chrysalis’. The next day they were still there and I took more pictures. Any day now I should see chrysalis’. The day after I went out to look for them, and they were gone. I looked all over the area the milkweed was planted. I felt disappointment, perhaps even a bit of grief for the Monarchs. Then I stopped and noticed that what was making me feel bad was attachment. I had grown attached to the idea of seeing them turn into butterflies, so when the world presented me with something different I felt disappointment. The lesson is that I can choose to feel bad, or I can accept what has happened. I can then make wise choices in the future… like perhaps next time I find caterpillars on my milkweed I’ll put them in an enclosure while they are still vulnerable. Or maybe I just accept that sometimes in nature things don’t go as planned.
The garden is a good place to learn mindfulness lessons with subject matter that isn’t as overwhelming as a lot of personal situations, especially impermanence and acceptance.
What has your garden taught you lately?