Written by Nancy Nabak, Communication Coordinator
This is the time of year where the air smells earthy and the earth smells like your roots, your very origin. New subtle life forms are noticed and the tail end of what was once a happy blossom is begrudgingly fading into fallen petals. And the clouds also look different, carrying away summer’s wishes and ushering in romantic bonfire dreams of fall.
Last night was a good night for a fall walk. The leopard frogs continued to hold strong in their numbers and hop-ability. (It doesn’t matter what age you are, this year’s population thrust has to be bringing a smile to your face and reminding you of youthful days.)
Birds of all types are passing through now, new fall plants like bottle gentian are pushing up, and new fungus forms seem to be singing a different song. Sort of a sleepy, softer toned one, really. Preparing us for a slow down.
I’m a big fungus fan so my friend and I decided to go in search of as many as we could while on this stroll. We caught glimpses of new lichens, mosses and mushrooms, but we didn’t find the really captivating ones such as Lion’s mane, which looks like a white flowing waterfall, or the dead man’s fingers, which literally imitates gnarly fingers reaching from underground. But we did find a bluing bolette, a cream- to- yellow colored mushroom that immediately stains blue if scratched or cut. It’s really fascinating to watch this phenomenon. The center will go from a pretty yellow to a deep blue in seconds.
To our good fortune, the dimming light on the trail offered more than mushrooms, we also found a fat, second generation lime green caterpillar belonging to the striking Luna moth. It was impossible to miss and I kept thinking, “How is this not in trouble from predators?” Because it was so bold, I named it Spartacus. Spartacus had a brown head, a brown “x” on his back end, and yellow spiracles, little yellow dots which are actually external openings for respiration. This cool breathing process happens when it contracts its muscles to open and close the spiracles.
Unexpected moments in nature like Spartacus and bluing mushrooms steal my breath away. They give me pause to be grateful for all I have, and grateful that we live in an area where miracles like this are only a slow paced walk away.
Photos by Nancy Nabak