Thursday, February 26, 2015

Glitterpoop at Oakwood Valley

Watch out, Beardog! That's glitterpoop!

It makes me chuckle to think that there is a person out there who does this. He or she embarks on their regular hike at Oakwood Valley with a glitter dispenser and a keen eye for rogue dog poops. Those that catch his or her eye get a little sprinkle. 

I have only seen this here, on this particular Marin County trail, and I have seen it done for a few years. 

Is this:
1) A citizen's arrest of sorts, calling out irresponsible dog owners who don't tend their pets' excrement?

2) art/protest?

3)  another form of littering?

You decide. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Cool Yard Mushrooms

In response to the rain from two weeks ago, a couple of cool mushrooms have popped up in the yard.

Catey discovered this one, growing in a dirt scrape under our front porch where Beardog often prefers to hang out. It is probably one of the cooler places of our yard, but always dry. I think this mushroom is still emerging and may have to wait to identify it. The closest I can come up with is shaggy mane, Coprinus comatus. 

Next up, emerging under a pine in our yard which had a small crop of these two years ago, is what I believe is Amanita muscaria. 

It will also be fun to watch this one mature, providing the squirrels or skunks don't get to it again. The reddish color should intensify and it should continue to have white spots. This is a famous mushroom.

Per Wikipedia:
"In remote areas of Lithuania Amanita muscaria has been consumed at wedding feasts, in which mushrooms were mixed with vodka." Sounds like quite a party!

UPDATE, 2/24:
I think they were both the same species, 
Amanita muscaria. One was eaten at the base of the stalk, and died. The other burgeons beautifully. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Odd dew on Poppies -- My first iPhone post

OK, a new era has truly begun as I sit here and post from my new iPhone.  After only a few weeks of ownership, this thing is changing my life. Catey just pointed this out, with a chuckle, as I sent her a web address I wanted to share with her via text message, no words spoken. (Would one consider this "over the Internet and through the room"?)

What does this mean for americanature? 

1. More frequent posts, most likely
2, Possibly some strange formatting and careless grammar. 
3. More reliance on digital photos. But I will continue to shoot film and post selected photos here, as previously. 

The above image shows a strange occurrence that has taken place on the poppies in our planter box lately. Each of the leaflets has tiny droplets on them. It may be hard to see this in the photo, but I did my best. 

I assume this is a method the plant has of regulating moisture, but I can't imagine why. We are in a record warm spell, and despite December rains heavy enough to cause widespread flooding, the winter has been very dry. These plants. Like the rest of our backyard natives, receive occasional dish rinse water, but have not lately; their soil is very dry. 

Any ideas out there as to what this phenomenon might be?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A New Decade, tiny mushrooms, time and knowledge.

Thank you, family and friends, near and far, for ringing in my 40s with me over the past weekend. It feels different than I thought it would. I don't feel old. I just feel here. I enjoy each new day more than the last, just as I did in my teens, twenties, thirties. So why would I not want to get older? (We have no choice anyway!)

As days continue, I hope to appreciate small things; accept all outcomes; validate all those with whom I interact; be confident in myself; continue to strengthen my partnership with Catey; and I look forward to more shared experiences with family, hers and mine. 

Here's a picture of a tiny mushroom from my last roll of film. (See the tiny one? Look up and left, into the shadows, and find an even tinier one). These guys showed up on the pear tree in our backyard after the first rains. We hope this doesn't mean bad things for the tree...but it may. But it means good things for the mushroom (which, by the way, I am unable to identify). Because the mushroom is a fruiting body, it is merely a small expression of the entire living organism. It's like an acorn on an invisible tree of mycelia, in a way. The mycelia are alive throughout the tree.

Tiny mushroom on pear, December 2014.
Life comes in so many forms, and we, as humans, have the ability, more than any other form, to appreciate and understand so many of the others. It takes a lifetime to even begin to learn about all the stuff out there, and we spend so much time focused on the Human World. It wasn't so long ago that humans were much closer connected to nature. I think it's important to maintain that connection, at the very least to respect that it's complicated out there. And, know or like it or not, we need lots of things to work out there for our own survival to continue.

With the heavy rain we had in the Bay Area last month, mushrooms have been appearing. I grabbed All that the Rain Promises, and More off my shelf and have been using it to identify a few mushrooms out there, just for fun. My new coworkers at San Francisco Recreation and Parks have taken on the challenge collectively, on our lunch breaks. We've made a few spore prints in our break room.  

This is a hilarious book: the photographs would be enough, but the narrative adds to it. And, if you read closely enough, you'll find some philosophy in this book. I read one of the passages about collecting boletes, or Porcini, mushrooms. There is an essay about Italian-American mushroom hunters. They are old, know the land, and are very slow and methodical at their craft. They are secretive about their locations. The essay calls attention to a way of life that is quite un-American. The definition of success, in the eyes of the Old World mushroom collector, is, by the end of your life, to have lots of time, and lots of knowledge. 

It was a fitting idea to ponder on my 40th.

Many tiny mushrooms on pear, December 2014.
Many tiny mushrooms on pear, December 2014.