Back in My Woods

Frost's Bolete (Boletus frostii).  I was thrilled with this find.  The amber drops on the pore surface are characteristic of a young B. frostii.

Frost’s Bolete (Boletus frostii). I was thrilled with this find. The amber drops on the pore surface are characteristic of a young B. frostii.

I’ve spent three late afternoons outside exploring my woods, and it’s had an amazingly restorative effect on me.  I think I haven’t been playing enough lately!

The gorgeous true-red cap of the Frost's Bolete.

The gorgeous true-red cap of the Frost’s Bolete.

I was particularly thrilled to find a Frost’s Bolete — because on my mushroom board, neither the resident expert nor the administrator has ever found one.  I have seen others in past years on the back of our property, so I didn’t figure they were that rare.

I am so very blessed to be able to feel awestruck wonder at so many aspects of the natural world.

I’ll just share the pictures, and hope that some of the magic comes through to you, too.  🙂

Pokeweed flowers with baby berries

Pokeweed flowers with baby berries

Ripening fig

Ripening fig

Rose hip

Rose hip

A 4 o'clock flower with a big seed.  When we were kids we used to collect the seeds and go around and try to sell them to the neighbors.  We never had a lot of luck.  Could be that our grimy little hands weren't the most market-wise packaging.  :D

A 4 o’clock flower with a big seed. When we were kids we used to collect the seeds and go around and try to sell them to the neighbors. We never had a lot of luck. Could be that our grimy little hands weren’t the most market-wise packaging. 😀

A young Cortinarius iodes from the bottom.  Only the small purple cap was sticking out.  The rest was buried in a decomposing stick.

A young Cortinarius iodes from the bottom. Only the small purple cap was sticking out. The rest was buried in a decomposing stick.

A mature cortinarius cap

A mature cortinarius cap

No wonder the tasteless Indian strawberries are crowding out the sweet wild strawberries.  They fruit all season and produce countless seeds.

No wonder the tasteless Indian strawberries are crowding out the sweet wild strawberries. They fruit all season and produce countless seeds.

Tender, edible greenbrier shoots are still available this late in the year.

Tender, edible greenbrier shoots are still available this late in the year.

A small suillus

A small suillus

Late figs on the way!

Late figs on the way!

Not all trees are friendly.  I think this is a wild hawthorne.

Not all trees are friendly. I think this is a wild hawthorne.

Red russulas, I think. I didn't bother to seriously try to identify them.  I just liked their color!  :)

Red russulas, I think. I didn’t bother to seriously try to identify them. I just liked their color! 🙂

Late afternoon sun dappled florest floor

Late afternoon sun dappled florest floor

Wild Foods with Dinner & SUNSHINE

Baby poke salad shoots and daylily buds tempura with dinner

Baby poke salad shoots and daylily buds tempura with dinner

We had blue skies today — at least between the clouds.  And SUNSHINE!  I didn’t mind being outside in the steamy weather today.  The sunshine felt SO good!  The deluge came around 5:30, but I didn’t care…. I had seen and felt the sun!

Edible daylily buds

Edible daylily buds

While I was out I noticed that both our fig trees promise a bumper crop.  That’s great because I have almost used all the figs I dried last year.  I love putting them, along with dehydrated orange peel, in my oatmeal in the mornings.

I also found some baby poke salad plants and some daylily buds.  High on sunshine, I picked some to cook with dinner this evening.

This evening’s dinner was a country boy special just for Ron…. cubed steak, mashed potatoes and gravy.  I’ll be eating a lot of rabbit food to make up for that!  😀

I had so much fun playing outside today that I didn’t get started on the curtains.  I can do that when it’s raining!

Figs!

Figs!

Baby poke salad plants

Baby poke salad plants

Blackberries

Blackberries

Cute little mushroom

Cute little mushroom

Small, tough-rinded, inedible puffball

Small, tough-rinded, inedible puffball

Unidentified yellow-capped mushroom

Unidentified yellow-capped mushroom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dehydrating Figs

I had not planned to preserve figs this year.  But I am getting too many to eat fresh.

Since I’m still trying to eat only healthy foods, I decided against adding a ton of sugar to them to make fig preserves.  Instead, I simply dehydrated today’s harvest.  That way I can enjoy them, healthy as fresh, at my leisure.

There are still quite a few figs on this tree.  My other fig tree has a lot of them, too, but they are larger and are still green.

If we were not planning to travel this winter, I would put in a fall garden.  I do miss having a garden and growing things.

I am hoping that next year, with a good irrigation system in place, I can combine square foot gardening and RVing.

 

Squirrel in the Fig Tree & Hummingbirds

After working in the garden late this afternoon, I decided to pick figs and make fig preserves this evening.  But most of the figs were partially eaten, and the uneaten ones were not ripe enough to pick.  What a disappointment!

If it were birds, I wouldn’t have minded too much.  But later I was sitting on the deck and noticed the fig tree moving.  I didn’t think that a bird would cause that much motion, so I watched for a few minutes… and then I saw the squirrel.   After he helped himself to what he wanted in the tree, he jumped to the ground and ate the partially eaten figs that I had discarded.

Since I didn’t have enough figs to even think of making preserves, I decided to play with an orange marmalade recipe.  I LOVE orange marmalade.  And figs go well with oranges.  So I’m planning to cut up my few figs and add them to the marmalade recipe and see how it turns out.  I bet it will be good!

Two hummingbirds have discovered the feeder I put up yesterday.  They have entertained us on and off all day.  It always amazes me how such exquisitely beautiful little birds can be so contentious in asserting proprietary rights to the feeder.  It’s like watching a tiny WWI airborne dogfight!

I also started more fall vegetable seeds in little plastic cups this evening.  I used to have good luck direct seeding almost everything.  But this year it is so hot that it is impossible to keep the garden soil evenly moist.

 

 

 

Figs are Ripening

Figs ripening. The darker one to the left is at the peak of sweetness.

The figs are almost ripe!  I wanted to wait until they were at their peak of sweetness before picking them.  But the birds are getting to them, so I picked a small bowlful for myself today, even though they would be better later.  They are still delicious, though.  Most of them should be at the peak of perfection in a few days.

I do NOT begrudge the birds!  I have been mourning at how few of them I see and hear lately.  So they are welcome to feast on a few of them.  I do wish they would eat a whole fig instead of pecking at several of them though!

For the birds 🙂

Also, we got the most wonderful rain today.  A warm, soft, misty sprinkle that lasted for hours and thoroughly soaked the ground.  We probably got less than an inch, but every drop of it soaked in and the plants look positively jubilant to me!

Our days continue in the 90’s.  In fact. they have been in the 90’s since May with only a handful of days in the high 80’s.  But we have been amazingly blessed with cloud cover that keeps the sun from blistering us.  And we’ve had showers pretty often, too.

Happy grass!

We are classified in a moderate drought on the weather maps, but having been through an exceptional drought a few years back, this looks like Eden to me.  I feel deeply for the people who are undergoing brutal heat and exceptional drought this year.  My sister in Texas says her grass is brown, dead, and crunches when she walks on it.

Wish I could share some of our beautiful rain with her.

Summer Fruits and Flowers & Ukulele Update

Plums are beginning to ripen

Despite the brutal heat wave, nature continues her eternal cycles.  Late in the day, when the yard is in shade, is when I enjoy getting outdoors and enjoying the display.

Our plums are beginning to ripen.  We’ve already picked half a dozen.  Soon we’ll have more than we know what to do with!

An ant enjoys the half plum that another critter nibbled on and discarded.

The figs, and wild blackberries and wild black cherries are also maturing nicely.

Wild oxeye daisies are blooming.

And another year is almost halfway gone.  That’s a significant milestone when your hair is silver.  🙂

I am REALLY enjoying my ukulele.  I’m working on combining simple picking and chording for the most elementary introduction to fingerstyle playing.  It is so rewarding.  I also do a lot of soft chording and singing (HAH!) after Ron is in bed in the evenings.  It’s my special time in a very special dimension where music is the only language that is spoken.

Baby figs

Blackberries just beginning to redden.

Wild black cherries beginning to color

Hazy sunset

Ox eye daisies

Figs, Blackberries & Flowers

figs on our fig tree

Figs on our tree

I’ve been feeling stressed about all the ramifications of the Gulf Oil Spill, the methane, the dispersants, and the unfathomable implications to sea life, the environment, and our lives.  No, not just stressed.  I was really letting it get me down.

So late this afternoon I went outside to see what was growing, figuring it would cheer me up.  It did.

ripe blackberries

Blackberries are beginning to ripen

One of our fig trees is producing more figs this year than it ever has.  It’s loaded!  I ate one the other day, and today enjoyed two more that were ripe.

A few years back they only had a handful of figs on them.  An elderly aunt (who has since passed on) told me to buy a can of lye, poke holes in the can, and bury it near the trees.  I did, and the following year they just exploded with figs.  Apparently our ground is too acid, and the lye corrected the ph.  Every time I enjoy a fig from our trees, I think of her.

Also, I discovered that the wild blackberries are beginning to ripen.  I only found a few ripe ones,  but did get enough to make blackberry cobbler later this evening.  There are still many, many vines with unripe berries on them, so we will have plenty soon.

rose

One of our climbing roses

It appears that I missed the wild blueberry season.  It goes so fast!  That’s what I get for staying inside in the air conditioning instead of combing the edges of the woods for them in the heat!  Maybe I’ll do better next year.

Some of the flowers looked a little heat stressed, but they brightened my spirits and reminded me to be grateful for the beauty and grace that fills my life — today.

And not to worry about the future.  If I can remember to stay in today, then I won’t dwell on the problems the future may bring.   And my life will be richer and more satisfying, too.

new guinea impatien

New Guinea impatien... thrives in hot weather

white periwinkles

White periwinkles -- heat tolerant and self cleaning to boot!

orange marigold

Bright, happy, dependable marigolds

yellow marigolds

Yellow marigolds. I love their sturdy, heat-tolerant little faces!

pastel daylilies

How can anything so hardy be so beautiful!

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