Monday, February 18, 2013

Unknown Stalked Fungus

February 10th was a lovely, cool and overcast Sunday afternoon, perfect for wandering around in the woods with Daisy and Duke.  We came across this strange mushroomy thing growing at the base of a huge dead tree.  Other shelf fungi were growing up the trunk of the tree, but they were smaller, so this is not just a stalked version of those shelves.  The stalk looked like gray-blue velvet, while the top looked like wood. When I tapped it, it sounded like wood, too.  Soft wood... maybe "corky wood" is a better description.   The stem is on one side of the shelf-like fungus.  When I brushed the leaves away I found that the base was enlarged as it entered the soil, as if the top was so heavy it needed extra support.  I haven't found it in any of my field guides, but I will continue looking.

Here is Daisy on a ledge over Meetinghouse Creek Valley.  Duke had just headed down the steep hill to play in the creek below.  Daisy turned as if to say, "I'll stay here with you, Mom."

The day also included some interesting finds near an old home site.  I love finding mini greenhouses in bottles, and have been known to try to bring them home to enjoy.  This is alway a disaster, ending in a bottle of dead stuff.  These little treasures cannot be moved.  They have come this far because the light and environment is perfect where they are.  If you ever find one, my advice is, leave it!

When I came across the next thing (below), I had no idea what it was. I studied it a while, and finally pulled it out of the leaves to figure it out.  What do you think it is?



Saturday, February 16, 2013

Heirloom Tomatoes for Janisse

I drew these heirloom "Black Cherry" tomatoes last October (yes, this is an embarrassingly late post) from the summer garden I planted with my friend, Mary W.  I decided this journal entry would be a great way to introduce my readers to one of my favorite nature writers and poets: Janisse Ray.   Her most recent book, The Seed UndergroundA growing Revolution to save food, is a fascinating and eye-opening introduction to the saving of heirloom seeds such as the Black Cherry Tomatoes.  In it she writes,

'There is no despair in a seed. There's only life, waiting for the right conditions-sun and water, warmth and soil-to be set free. Everyday, millions upon millions of seeds lift their two green wings."

Beautiful.  I bet you are already inspired to plant some seeds!

I first became a fan of Janisse one night back in 1999 or 2000, when I heard her read from her book, Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, at Wofford College.  Her heartfelt reading brought me to joyful tears.  Afterwards, I rushed to buy a book, and as she signed it, amazed myself by gushing about how much I loved what she'd read.  (I don't usually act that way!)  Not surprisingly, I loved the whole book, and bought several for gifts.  I've also had two opportunities to spend some (not enough) time with Janisse.

If you spend any time at all with Janisse, or read her books of nonfiction, or poetry, you too will become a fan.  Here is what author Tina McElroy Ansa says about her:

"Janisse Ray is, and has always been, the real authentic deal.  She feels deeply about the land, the water, the life of this planet.  She lives that conviction. And she is blessed with the gift to write about this earth is a way that touches us all..."  

But Janisse doesn't just live her passion, and write her passion...she also teaches it. She and her husband own a farm in south Georgia, near Savannah, called Red Earth Farm.   Here they regularly "teach workshops on organic gardening, cheese-making, fermentation, canning, solar dehydration, backyard chickens, and other modern homesteading and sustainability skills"  She leads writing workshops at the farm, as well, during which you can, if you're interested, learn how to milk a cow!

As I mentioned, Janisse is a powerful and moving speaker.  Check here for her schedule of upcoming readings and talks.

And, for those who live nearby, JANISSE WILL BE IN GREENVILLE, SC this TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 19, as guest speaker at the South Carolina Native Plant Society - Upstate meeting.  I urge anyone in the upstate to come meet her, and hear her speak.   You'll be glad you did!

Box Turtle Plastron

I know... it's been a while since my last post.  No apologies, just a short explanation: book tour.

If you don't know about the book yet, go here:

             Middlewood Journal Book

Today, though, I have two posts I want to share.  First is this box turtle plastron I found on the pipeline in December.  No big deal, except for the fact that I finished it!  (I have five or six or seven, maybe  eight? unfinished entries.)  

The other post is coming up next!

Thanks for your patience!