Sunday, October 23, 2016

October 23, 2016 - A Different Feel

There is a different feel in the woods now.  A different kind of life is taking over and becoming more prominent.  It was always there but hidden in the background, and so it went unnoticed.  It was easy to avoid, easy to ignore.  But with the scent of death in the air, that slightly sour fragrance of decaying leaves, the life which was hidden becomes emboldened.  Where it once lingered in the shadows, afraid of the sun, now it struts in broad daylight.  This is as it should be.

Ink cap mushrooms (Coprinopsis atramentaria).

We are reminded, once again, that we share our world with many creatures.  The typical preference for creatures of the sun makes us blind to the creatures of the dark half of the year.  Eyes that are dazzled by the light of the sun develop an inability to appreciate the dark hollows of the forest.  More’s the pity for that, but the trumpets announcing the coming of the Lord of Winter can now be clearly heard.  And for some of us, this is a good thing.

These ink cap mushrooms, along with dozens of other mushrooms, now clamor for attention.  In a day or so, a thick black liquid will ooze and drip from all around the cap of the mushroom as it dissolves.  There was a time when people used this mushroom for ink.  After I took the picture, I broke off a piece of the large one on the left.  Or at least, I attempted to do so.  But ink caps are so slimy and slippery that a tear here and there was all I could manage.  Even so, my fingers were covered in thick, black, sticky ink.

And all around, you will notice the scent of death.  This is not the noxious scent of decaying flesh but the heady and deep fragrance of decomposing vegetation.  It’s at once sour, musty, woodsy, and pungent.  It causes a reaction in the body.  You take very deep breaths and savor the process.  You draw your coat about you a bit tighter.  You hunch your shoulders a bit.  Then you gaze downward at the ground, walking in a slight daze, thinking, planning.  It’s time to start preparing, you tell yourself.  It’s time to check your supplies.  Winter is coming.

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