On The Road: On Hiatus

Folks,

Today is the last regular post for a few weeks as I have to focus on packing and moving and unpacking and a bunch of related things. Our offer was accepted and things are moving fast!

I had hoped the new site would be live and the new submission function would be functional and so we’d have a bunch of content lined up, but that’s not the case and I don’t have the time to deal with email submissions right now, so please accept my apologies.  I’ll try to post something here and there, but I don’t expect I’ll be back to a regular schedule until next month, unless the new site comes on before then.

 

Today’s picture is the view, a 5-10 minute walk from my soon-to-be front door. I’m so very excited to be so close to the river as I spent age 7-30 minus college near this same river but miles downstream. I spent countless hours along and in it, exploring, learning, fishing, partying, and in general, playing with Nature. I’m glad I’ll have such access again – being able to walk to the river from home is such a nice thing, it becomes a companion, a refuge from home and the stressors of life that you can almost stumble to, instead of having to drive somewhere and deal with all that hassle.

Looks like I can eat 1-3 fish per month (depending on species) from this part of the river, which is so much better than where I used to live downstream – fish are verboten for those who care and it always breaks my heart to see so many immigrant laborers fishing to feed their families in the late afternoons and evenings. I get it, and I love to eat fish, so I fish to eat, not just for sport, but it saddens me seeing them feed their families a significant part of their weekly protein from not-so-good waters. The fish that far downstream have heavy metals and nasty chemicals in them, but fresh, “free” protein is undeniable as is the joy of some good time outside catching dinner.

 

 

Have a great rest of the week, everybody!








On The Road: Mushroom Cleanup

Folks,

Sorry for the no-post Friday, my laptop was restoring until the wee hours of the morning and I was sound asleep.

On that note, have a great day and let’s hope this week is full of good stuff, though perhaps less crazy. Or not, maybe this is the fever we need to burn through.

 

For mushrooms this year, I’ve got one last set of pics and explanations.

First, to answer some questions from earlier posts, like all fungi, the king bolete(boletus edulis) fruit when the conditions are good. That set of conditions varies depending on the type of mushroom. It is often about water. This is for two reasons – wet ground is welcoming to mushroom spores and the moisture from the rain is used to make the mushrooms which are a fruiting of the fungus organism to spread spores. In the mountains of Central/Southern Colorado, temperature is also a factor as rains earlier in the summer do not produce the boletes, and the later in the year, the less likely a rain is to generate growth. These proto mushrooms usually begin underground along the mycelium strands in the dirt. With sufficient moisture and time, they will pop-up from the ground, displacing earth and otherwise forcing themselves up and out of the dark. If there was substantial rain, or if more comes, then the mushroom will keep growing. I’ve seem some (rotten!) that were close to 2 feet tall and I’ve seen pics of even larger specimens from Oregon where moisture is prevalent; the mountains I explore in Colorado are in the arid zone for the most part, only a few spots being “alpine”. The mycelium routes water from a large area to their fruit, so finding pools or areas where water flows when it rains will often be good clues to finding mushrooms.

Mushrooms are huge protein providers, so many forest animals enjoy them, even species that are toxic or distressful to humans. It’s neat to see an elk or deer snacking on a large mushroom, or to see a squirrel or chipmunk run away with one in its mouth. They are tasty and very good for you, but as I recommend, although you can eat some raw, most mushrooms have some proteins and enzymes that can cause gastrointestinal distress. These potential irritants are denatured by cooking. Never eat something unless you are 100% sure you’ve identified it correctly; this takes experience. The wrong mushroom, raw or cooked, can permanently destroy one or more organs or cause a painful, horrible death of organ failure and lingering misery.

Preserving mushrooms is a whole book, I’m sure.  I usually slice them and dry them in my dehydrator or a very low-oven (very risky if you aren’t a hawk!). You can also slice them and mix them with oil and freeze with reasonably good results.  You can also can them – either in water or in tomato sauce (as a jump start on pasta sauce as the boletes contribute a lot of flavor and umami). I keep dried mushrooms in glass jars and they survive fine for years if kept cool, dark, and dry.

I was asked about spore printing to identify mushrooms. What you do is cut two mushrooms of the same type and put each cut on a piece of black or white paper. After a couple of hours, it will release spores from the underside of the cap onto the paper. This print is unique to the species and so is a great tool for identification, even if it takes some time. You do white and black paper because identical-looking mushrooms (LBMs, for example – little brown mushrooms) can shoot out white or black spores or something in between, so it’s best to just spore print both paper colors unless you’re sure. I’ve not seen colored spores, but I believe that there are some neat specimens out there.

I wish I knew more; I hope to be able to spend some serious time learning more about the different species. I’ve got a few books but so much of the detail washes over me like a small wave. I have seen some amazing slime molds and non-mushroom fungus but cannot find the pictures. I expect I’ll find them some day and that will be a new post!

 

OK, onto the pictures. These were mostly taken in the rain.

 

 

Pushing up through the soil/litter. These are not boletes, sullus or something like that. The color is similar, and when you find mature specimens, they often confuse from the top. The dead giveaway is that the underside of the cap has gills whereas the king bolete has tubes.

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On The Road

A few more shots. I’ll share some more answers and narrative for tomorrow’s post and then we’ll be done with mushrooms for a good, long while!

 

 

This hail from the night before! Crazy

 

 

 

 

 

What a neat fungus! I’m unable to locate my slime mold and fungus pics from a two day exploration and I’m sad – there are some neat, rare, amazing lifeforms we rarely encounter.

 

Have a great day, everyone.








On The Road: The Mushrooming

Good morning, everybody,

A solid Thanks to TaMara for the past two days, I’m still off-kilter, but I expect my laptop repair Thursday so the end is in sight!

 

Another day, more pics from previous mushroom hunts.

Enjoy, I’ll try to answer questions previous and new.

 

Chipmunk damage, but also an older bolete – note the yellow gunk. I think of it like crab/lobster goo – you CAN eat it, and I’m sure someone considers it a delicacy, but it’s trash as far as I’m concerned. I scrape the red caps clean of that yellow crap.

 

An awesome cluster-find. When folks ask “why king boletes?”, I smile and explain: “it’s like a gold rush – you make a find, collect it, and then as you’re getting up, you see another cluster even better than you just found and then as you scurry over to claim and harvest it, you see three more.”

 

This is exemplary, close to 5 pounds fresh. I failed to be as precise as I am now as you can see by the cloggy-dirt at the base of the bigger pair.

 

 

An Amanita Muscaria, quite gorgeous.

This was from my yard in June 2010. We had this amazing tarantula living on our property. Each September you’d see them marching back to their burrows to overwinter.  Amazing lifeforms.

 

So we had a “volunteer” from a house a block or so away take up in the front yard next to the road in an empty spot where a fruit tree had failed. I let this plant grow and it was an amazing thing. Once it flowered I could identify it – Jimsonweed, or as I knew it, datura.

I never used it, but the flower was amazing. It would open at dusk and expire the next morning. The opening was a wonder of nature – the stalk would shake and tremor and the petals would unfurl a bit, then a pause (as, I imagined, more liquid was pumped into chambers and tubes). You could HEAR it. An amazing thing and I’ll try to dig up some video with audio to share.

 

Have a great day, everybody.

 

 

 

 








On The Road: Ojo Caliente

Morning. One last entry from me.  Let’s see if we can avoid controversy today (somehow I doubt it).

Idaho Springs is a quick forty-five minutes from me, and they have caves, so I’m often up there for their hot springs.

But when I need a real break to recharge, we pack up the car and drive a few hours to New Mexico to Ojo Caliente. Just looking at the photos relaxes me. Hopefully, they’ll do the same for you.

Above the springs are ancient ruins. You can read more about the history here.

Surrounding the springs are the ruins of the cities populated before the birth of history. Posi or Poseouinge, “village at the place of the green bubbling hot springs” was the largest of 4 Pueblos surrounding the springs and home to thousands of people. Because of the work of archaeologists Adolph Bandelier and Edgar Hewitt, we know that Posi was a vibrant center of activity until the 15th century. The unusually diverse and abundant styles of pottery shards and other artifacts remain as a testament to Posi and the spring’s long-standing iconic significance within the larger region.

Bonus Rio Grande:

Well, now I’m relaxed and remembering to breathe…