Adventure in the Woods

Pink Ladyslippers

Pink Ladyslippers

I was outside when the sun was too high, so I hope you enjoy the subjects of the photos. The pictures themselves aren’t great.

This was the first ladyslipper I found.

This was the first ladyslipper I found.

I suppose first I’ll tell you the adventure part, as the photos are pretty self-explanatory. I set out toward the back of our property, heading toward the area that is the best mushroom habitat around, by a little steep-banked creek. I never made it that far. There were many blowdowns, thick underbrush, hills and a steep ravine. I didn’t make it back that far, either!

Another double ladyslipper.  In this shot you can see a little of the flower's interior.

Another double ladyslipper. In this shot you can see a little of the flower’s interior.

I did make it a few hundred steeply sloped feet. I found several varieties of LBM’s (little brown mushrooms) that the experts have difficulty identifying. I also found a couple of medium tan-colored mushrooms that I intended to try to identify when I got back to the house. And several tiny orange mushrooms that looked a little chanterellish, but it’s way too early for them. They went in my bag to identify, too.

(But — pink ladyslippers are blooming! They were my consolation prize.)

Anyway, I got very tired and out of breath, so decided I’d better head (uphill) home. I climbed one little ridge, and that was it. I sat down on a thick cushion of forest duff and hyperventilated for a while.

Yu can see how soft and downy the young bull thistle flower stalks are at this stage.  (Pardon the dirty fingernails... it happens when I grub around outside!  :)

You can see how soft and downy the young bull thistle flower stalks are at this stage. (Pardon the dirty fingernails… it happens when I grub around outside! 🙂

I was going to stay there until I recuperated, but then I heard some of the dogs that run free around here sounding like they were fighting. That REALLY scared me, so I bushwacked over blowdowns, greenbrier, blackberry bushes, sapling trees… until I couldn’t go any farther.

This time I found a nice log to sit on. I beat on it with my hiking pole and prodded around to make sure there were no nasty critters under it, sat down, and the log cracked and sent me tumbling.

The bull thistle flower stalks after scraping.

The bull thistle flower stalks after scraping.

So I phoned Ron and told him where I was and asked him to bring me my inhaler. After using that, I felt better. And after resting a while, we made it home.

Exhausted, I threw the mushrooms I had planned to identify in the trash, too tired to mess with them, and crashed for a long nap.

So, apparently the COPD is getting worse… which means stick to easy trails and always carry my inhaler.

Before I headed into the woods I saw a couple of bull thistles with flower stalks and unopened flowers. At this stage the prickly flower stalks are downy and can be easily held with bare fingers.

Wild strawberries are blooming.

Wild strawberries are blooming.

I had them in my mushroom basket, so did put them into the refrigerator before I crashed.

When I got up, it was an easy job to scrape the down off the flower stalks and pop them in the pan with my chicken stew. At this young stage they have a very mild celery flavor, and they didn’t add anything to the dish I was cooking except fun.

When the stalks get older, they get prickly and hollow. I hold them with a pair of needle-nose pliers and peel off the prickles with a pocket knife. They have an intense celery flavor and are much better for cooking.  They get tough at that stage though, so need to be sliced thinly then.

So today was a good news-bad news day.

Tasteless, invasive Indian strawberries are crowding out the sweet wild strawberries.

Tasteless, invasive Indian strawberries are crowding out the sweet wild strawberries.

Oh, I almost forgot! I saw the plastic surgeon this morning who will be tightening up my droopy eyelids which is supposed to improve my vision significantly. I hope it does. But I’m secretly thrilled that my eyes will look better, too!

Little orange mushrooms

Little orange mushrooms

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Another Perfect Day

sunset2

Gail and I watched the sunset together this evening. With lots of “Oh, wows!” ::)

Our high temperature today was a sunny 76 degrees.

Another sunset view

Another sunset view

It was perfect for a long walk (for me) with Sheba.  Mike had gone to Jacksonville today and Ron puttered around, leaving the afternoon for Gail and I to bask in the gorgeous weather together and in just being with each other.   That opportunity has been a long time coming.

Ron and I are heading to Eastbank COE Tuesday for a week.  Then we’ll come back here and camp with Mike and Gail for 2 days, and then we’ll both leave here and go to Suwannee River State Park for a week.

Some areas are still soggy from the rain last week.

Some areas are still soggy from the rain last week.

Then Gail and Mike close on their new house.  We’ll head South and give them a while to settle in before we head to their place for a while.

Right now our camping agenda depends solely on what campgrounds have vacancies and what we can afford.  It’s a fun way to camp.

Deep, dark, mysterious looking woods along the trail.

Deep, dark, mysterious looking woods along the trail.

Ron hasn't quite recognized that the Casita has limited space for junk food!  :D

Ron hasn’t quite recognized that the Casita has limited space for junk food! 😀

The Heart of Summertime

Tenters on the far bank

Tenters on the other bank

Cloud cover and a steady breeze made exploring the woods a pleasure today.  Amazingly, we have not picked up a single tick! Yet, anyway!

A variety of blueberries or huckleberries.

A variety of blueberries or huckleberries.

I took Sunny for a short, slow, old-doggie-paced walk this morning.  He soon tired, so we headed back.  Then I took Sheba for a longer, brisker, more interesting walk.

I found all kinds of little wonders to photograph.  However, in transferring them to my computer, I lost over 30 of them.  My favorites, of course!

I think it might be time to start thinking about getting a new camera.  I promised myself one for Christmas, but I might not make it  that long.

Darn!  😀

Wild muscadine grape buds

Wild muscadine grape buds

Greenbrier berries

Greenbrier berries

Smilax flower buds

Smilax flower buds

Sunny after his walk

Sunny after his walk

Sheba exploring

Sheba exploring

Last night's thunderstorm blew all of the trumpet flowers off their vines.  None are left in the trees.

Last night’s thunderstorm blew all of the trumpet flowers off their vines.

Greenbrier thorns and tendrils

Greenbrier thorns and tendrils

 

 

Back in My Woods

Frost's Bolete (Boletus frostii).  I was thrilled with this find.  The amber drops on the pore surface are characteristic of a young B. frostii.

Frost’s Bolete (Boletus frostii). I was thrilled with this find. The amber drops on the pore surface are characteristic of a young B. frostii.

I’ve spent three late afternoons outside exploring my woods, and it’s had an amazingly restorative effect on me.  I think I haven’t been playing enough lately!

The gorgeous true-red cap of the Frost's Bolete.

The gorgeous true-red cap of the Frost’s Bolete.

I was particularly thrilled to find a Frost’s Bolete — because on my mushroom board, neither the resident expert nor the administrator has ever found one.  I have seen others in past years on the back of our property, so I didn’t figure they were that rare.

I am so very blessed to be able to feel awestruck wonder at so many aspects of the natural world.

I’ll just share the pictures, and hope that some of the magic comes through to you, too.  🙂

Pokeweed flowers with baby berries

Pokeweed flowers with baby berries

Ripening fig

Ripening fig

Rose hip

Rose hip

A 4 o'clock flower with a big seed.  When we were kids we used to collect the seeds and go around and try to sell them to the neighbors.  We never had a lot of luck.  Could be that our grimy little hands weren't the most market-wise packaging.  :D

A 4 o’clock flower with a big seed. When we were kids we used to collect the seeds and go around and try to sell them to the neighbors. We never had a lot of luck. Could be that our grimy little hands weren’t the most market-wise packaging. 😀

A young Cortinarius iodes from the bottom.  Only the small purple cap was sticking out.  The rest was buried in a decomposing stick.

A young Cortinarius iodes from the bottom. Only the small purple cap was sticking out. The rest was buried in a decomposing stick.

A mature cortinarius cap

A mature cortinarius cap

No wonder the tasteless Indian strawberries are crowding out the sweet wild strawberries.  They fruit all season and produce countless seeds.

No wonder the tasteless Indian strawberries are crowding out the sweet wild strawberries. They fruit all season and produce countless seeds.

Tender, edible greenbrier shoots are still available this late in the year.

Tender, edible greenbrier shoots are still available this late in the year.

A small suillus

A small suillus

Late figs on the way!

Late figs on the way!

Not all trees are friendly.  I think this is a wild hawthorne.

Not all trees are friendly. I think this is a wild hawthorne.

Red russulas, I think. I didn't bother to seriously try to identify them.  I just liked their color!  :)

Red russulas, I think. I didn’t bother to seriously try to identify them. I just liked their color! 🙂

Late afternoon sun dappled florest floor

Late afternoon sun dappled florest floor

Serenity

Ron baiting a hook

Ron baiting a hook

This morning clouded up and looked like it might rain.  But, as it has every day since we’ve been here, the clouds moved on, and it turned into a beautiful day.

I spent part of this morning deep cleaning the Casita.  It starts to close in on me when it gets cluttered.  So I vacuumed the carpet around our beds and under the bathroom door (where Sheba hair collects), and got everything spiffed up again.  It’s surprising how much larger the Casita looks when it’s clean.

We are loving our clear window!

We are loving our clear window!

Our refrigerator vent cover arrived from Casita today!  To say I was delighted would be a huge understatement.   I laughed at my jerry-rigged fix, but I’m so relieved to have the little Casita looking pretty again!

The last two days have been warmer and muggy, but not uncomfortable.  We have had to run the air conditioner at night to sleep comfortably though.

Around 4:00 this afternoon, we went fishing again.  We leashed the dogs to trees.  They weren’t thrilled with the situation, but were pretty good about it.

Little Casita in the woods with her brand new refrigerator vent

Little Casita in the woods with her brand new refrigerator vent

At first, we had a blast fishing for bait fish with crickets.  Those little 4 – 6″ fish hit almost as fast as we could throw our lines in.  But then, when we started fishing with our bait fish, that was the end of the action.

However, I don’t think there is anything as serene as sitting on a shady bank…. just knowing that a huge fish will strike at any time.    🙂

We were out there for three hours before we started getting hungry and decided we’d better head back to camp and cook dinner.

Nightfall over the lake

Nightfall over the lake

I’m exhausted this evening, but it is that wonderful tired that you get from being outdoors all day.

Another perfect day at Doll Mountain.

Dogs Watching the Bunny Show & Gearing Up for a New Project

Sheba watching a bunny

Sheba watching a bunny

When Sheba was younger she would not stay in the yard.  So I used a radio collar on her to limit her wandering.  She learned that the bunnies were always out of reach, so eventually gave up chasing them.  She no longer wears the collar, and once in a while she will chase bunnies into the woods.  But it amuses me that both of the dogs will often just watch them for entertainment.

Sheba watches, but Sunny pays no attention

Sheba watches, but Sunny pays no attention.

The other day Ron and I were laughing at what kind of dog we have that won’t chase rabbits when I starting singing, “You ain’t nothing but a hound dog.  You ain’t never caught a rabbit; you ain’t no friend of mine.”  😀

The dogs lose interest

The dogs lose interest

The bunny is still there after the dogs have moved on

The bunny is still there after the dogs have moved on

I’m gearing up to replacing the Casita’s translucent door window with a clear, smoked glass, opening window.  I am really looking forward to being able to open it for added ventilation, and having another window to enjoy the view through. 

And it will be especially nice to be able to see who is at the door when I hear a knock!

 

Woods, Mushrooms, a Flower & Wild Edibles

Our woods

Our woods

Today Ron took Sunny and Sheba to the groomer, so I had several hours to myself.  I decided to check out the woods to see what discoveries awaited me.

Some of these photos were taken in the woods.  Some were in the transition area between the woods and our yard.  And some of them are from our yard…. which has plenty of weeds growing in the lawn!  I like it that way!  🙂

Just beautiful!  I think it's a moss of some kind.

Just beautiful! I think it’s a moss of some kind.

Little brown mushrooms.

Little brown mushrooms.

More lbms (little brown mushrooms)

More lbms (little brown mushrooms)

Little white mushrooms.  Not edible.

Little white mushrooms. Not edible.

Berries the birds missed

Berries the birds missed

Greenbrier thorns.  Not fun to walk through!

Greenbrier thorns. Not fun to walk through!

Small greenbrier

Small greenbrier

Lichen

Lichen

Moss on fallen log

Moss on fallen log

A russula, I think

A russula, I think

A periwinkle -- perennial vinca.  One lone bloom was all I found.

A periwinkle — perennial vinca. One lone bloom was all I found.

Bracken.  Last years dead leaves show where edible fiddleheads will come up in spring

Bracken. Last years dead leaves show where edible fiddleheads will come up in spring

Tender, tasty chickweed

Tender, tasty chickweed

Two more edibles --field garlic and henbit

Two more edibles –field garlic and henbit

Wild strawberry leaves make a nutritious tea

Wild strawberry leaves make a nutritious tea

Edible suillus.  Before cooking, peel off the slimy cuticle to avoid digestive upset.  The white flesh is a decent edible.

Edible suillus. Before cooking, peel off the slimy cuticle to avoid digestive upset. The white flesh is a decent edible.

The pore surface of the suillus

The pore surface of the suillus

Just a pretty picture

Just a pretty picture

A Walk in the Woods

Ron and I meandered through the woods looking for mushrooms again this afternoon.

The woods are still wet after the rain.  But still, no oyster mushrooms, no crown tip coral and no hen of the woods, even though they have all thrived here before.

Maybe one good rain wasn’t enough to convince the mushrooms’ mycelia that the drought is really over.  🙂

I did find a couple of small white mushrooms — one deadly amanita and one I didn’t bother trying to identify.

Nevertheless, it felt so good to tromp through the woods on a crisp, windy fall day.  I felt so happy and alive when we got back home!

Deadly amanita

Unidentified

Old Stumps on the Trail

Bend in the trail

 

Warning!  This post will be incredibly boring unless you are a hard core nature lover.  And maybe even if you are!

We went for another LONG walk today.  Aside from being a little achy, I feel more relaxed and stress-free than I have in a long time.

Rather than try to say something fascinating about a walk in brown Georgia woods in the winter, I’ll just post photos of things that intrigued me.

Fern

Ferns on fallen log

Half-eaten wild ginger leaves

Wild ginger leaf

This old stump looked like some kind of mythical sea creature to me

Convoluted tree base

Odd stump

Graceful old stump

Twin trees

Two more twin trees. They were everywhere. I've never seen so many anyplace else.

See-through tree. It had an eerie look to it.

Winged branches

 

 

Spring Garden and Woods

Ron digging chickweed out of our square foot gardens

I really can’t say I am ready to get back into gardening again.  Camping and travel remain my dearest loves.  But the season beckons.

We will probably not go anywhere this month, but do plan to meet up with my sister from Texas at Mom’s place in May.  Taxes hit us hard enough this month to wipe out this month’s travel budget.

Spring in the woods is irresistible, though.  I am posting way too many photos today, but wanted to share the glory of spring in the northwest Georgia hills.

On edit…. I did get an identification on the strange red growths on the leaves pictured below.  Click here for the explanation.

Blooming dogwood branch

Dogwood flowers

The back side of dogwood blooms

Wild Indian Strawberry flower opening

This is really odd. It looks like some kind of plant that is a leaf parasite. I have not noticed this before.

A closeup of the leaf parasite (?)

Some leaves have a lot of them.

These litter the forest floor. I think they are maple seeds, but am not sure.

Tiny flowers on a shrub in our yard.

Onion flowers are blooming in an Earth Box

A violet bloom emerging in the woods

Soft moss makes me wish that I was barefoot. 🙂

Unknown flowering tree. I just noticed that if you expand this photo and look at the leaves near the bottom left corner, you can see some of those strange red growths (fungi?) that are pictured above. (On edit -- it's a black cherry tree.)

Unusual green and white wildflower. On edit, a blog reader identified this flower as a Star of Bethlehem. Thanks, Evan!

Wild crabapple blossom

Baby plums on our Japanese plum trees