a harvesty day

it was a mushroom kind of day
a clump of light tan mushrooms 
at the foot of one of the burr oaks

a little later
in another part of the yard
a clutch of larger darker mushrooms
again at the base of a burr oak

a bone I have to pick with mushroom 
field guides
so sweldom do I find photos
that look anything like the mushrooms
I find. . . 

then later yet
while collecting the days fallen walnuts
I discovered a mushroom I do know
a hen of the woods
of sizable proportions

a choice edible
used for centuries in Chinese Medicine
lowers blood pressure
reduces the size of cancerous tumors
 and retards their growth
and reduces the nasty side effects of chemotherapy
lowers blood sugar 
strenthens the immune system
full of excellent essential fatty acids
a protein feast
and beautiful

hen of the woods also known as
maitake mushroom
this one weighs 6.5 pounds

(some as large as 50 pounds
so while mine's a giant to me
it’s small potatoes in the mycological collector’s world

then in a walk  up the steep hill behind the house
another one found
only 3 pounds

but here is me
now with 9.5 pounds of prime mushroom

lucky it’s freezeable
and I sauted up a panful in butter
with salt and pepper
and they are delicious!

I note they’re selling on the internet
for $33.00 a pound

I am wealthy in ‘shrooms tonight

showing (having told)

having told about the new lair-in-the-woods
it’s time for pix eleations

one of the burr oaks close to the house

here a pooling of sulphur butterflies
on the yellow stone road

and speaking of sulphur
some sulphuir shelf fungii

a standing dead walnut
covered in fungal frills

close up

meanwhile, within
shelves going up in main library room

the library from the loft ladder

and you just know there will be many more images. . .
inside and out

and eventually there will be inside images
with nary a single box!

a plague of unexpected assistants

two days ago
from the southwest
in small numbers  but steadily
a plague of grackles came flying cackling overhead
and almost simultaneously a rainfall of black walnuts
thudding and plopping down

surely there was a connection between the appearance of the eventual hundreds of grackles
 of whom a great number is called a plague
and the fortuitous fall of the nuts I have been collecting. . . 

they swept through flitting from tree to tree
the long length of the yard   some several hundreds of feet
barely stopping to perch
chattering a constant cacophony of cackle cackle cackle
 accompanied by the plunk thunk crunk
as the nuts hit the ground

I swept up the binoculars
and finally found a few still enough
to observe them pecking at the nuts in the trees

after about 30 minutes they left the area
but later in the afternoon returned
for more of the same

I figured it out:
inside the blackening rotting husks
of the walnuts
are multitudes of squirmy maggots
sometimes clumped in the hundreds

this is what the grackles seek
and prise from the nuts
as they fly by

thank you my gracks
for so speeding up my collection efforts
and for the wonder of the shining black whirl
of your passing through


I descend from a line of gatherers
little surprise then
to find myself shortly after dawn
with a basket on my arm
 head down   line of sight on the lawn
seeking among the grass   the fallen leaves 
of the walnut trees
for the nuts which have begun to fall
 ripe ready  from heaviness  
  from the signals of summer’s wane

as I find them  basket them
I am reminded of trips to the chicken coop
when I was four or so  with my mother
and the slipping of eggs from beneath
the warm underbellies of red hens

I am reminded of fall visits from my grandmother
 for whom I am namesake
seeking mushrooms in the Ohio woods
putting them in this very same basket
the seeking posture also   the same

in both cases a race against
 the other gatherers
in the walnut case   squirrels
in the mushroom case   snails and bugs

these black walnuts  the toughest nuts to crack
 lime size and lime green
(this  a year for large ones)
the husks  already   blackened softening  on some
 the precurssor event to shedding the husks
 which in this signaling of readiness
 stains the fingers of the collector

occasional skyward glances
 to detect which trees are nut bearing this year
then to ground again 

the eye develops a talent for perceiving
 a seeing through the camouflage
rendering the fallen nuts near invisible at first

already I am thinking ahead
to how I will protect them from my competing collectors
   squirrels  and raccoons   
while they complete   outside
   the shedding of husks that I might then
   begin the arduous task of cracking them open
   for the second harvest   getting to the meat of the matter

above me  sky sailing  the wind pushed clouds
  the heave and roil of tree tops
  dew and last night’s rain  and leaves   loosed and dropping
   about me  on me

there is music here
  the sounds of all these fallings
  the percussive efforts of several woodpeckers
  distant crow conversations
  scream of hawk
  songs of unseen birds whose names-by-song
    I do not yet know
  the occasional road rumble-bys of milk tankers
  pickup trucks caboosed  with corn harvesters  hay balers  
    other gatherers out in the early day  intent upon collections
     of their own