Saturday, 3 December 2016
Several volunteers worked on French broom (mostly) at Thornewood open space preserve today. As always, I got there early and did some extra work on the side. A pretty place, a perfect day.
Ellen took this picture of the volunteer group. The pile to my right is some of the broom we removed, by no means all. It is always impressive how much can be done in a few hours.
The property was transferred to the open space district through details that need not be repeated here, but the house was in pretty bad repair. What was to be done with the house? Tear it down? Oh, surely not! But there was no money to fix it up, and what would you do with it then? In the end, it was leased to a family in exchange for them repairing and maintaining it. Fair trade, I’d say. The volunteer group lunched on a stone fence just outside what might be considered the yard.
Having dealt the broom a serious blow, well, some of it, we took a short mushroom hike.
The first attraction wasn’t a mushroom at all, but a Kings Mountain manzanita, and in bloom! This variety is found only here, on King’s Mountain. The leaves attach very closely to the stem; one can even imagine them wrapping around the stem.
For comparison, here (above) is another manzanita, garden variety, also in bloom, from Sunday’s hike at Rancho San Antonio. The leaf detail and attachment are clearly different. I learn something every day.
This might also not be a mushroom, maybe a moss. Worth a look, in any event.
But the big jack-o-lantern fungi are definitely mushrooms. Sometimes called false chanterelles, I don’t think they really resemble chanterelles all that much. Poisonous, though apparently not deadly. And the most interesting thing is that they are bioluminescent. Too bad it wasn’t dark.
Saturday evening, we sponsored a holiday pot-luck. Good attendance, good food, ho, ho, ho. Thanks, Jacky, for doing all the work.
Sunday, 4 December
I haven’t been to Rancho San Antonio for a while now, so it seemed like a good choice. Cold morning, warming to pleasant. A perfect day. The public parking lots fill up early; people drive around and around … and around. The volunteer lot was empty except for me. Well, and except for half a dozen deer, at least three of which were multi-point bucks.
The way I usually do these things is to work hard at the outset, then kick back and luxuriate.
The first three hours took me from the parking lot to the top of Black Mountain, at 2800 feet. Hard work indeed. Not the fastest gazelle in the pack, but I get there, as long as the jaguars are elsewhere.
And then I perched on one of these rocks and enjoyed the view out toward the ocean, soaked up photons and calories, and reaffirmed my status as totally and hopelessly spoiled.
Poison oak. No, not the leafy stuff (that’s toyon). The bare red stems. It’s characteristic that the offshoot twigs break off at different angles around the stem, and curve upward. No two twigs start from the same place. New growth tends to be red, but (below) it fades to a mellow shade of brown later in life. Even when they have completely gone gray, they are still seriously to be avoided.
This one still carries the seeds from last year.
And speaking of last year, we see on the right, a naked poison oak bush, center left, red leaves from last season that have not yet fallen off, and in the background, fresh green leaves beginning to appear for next season’s delectation.
The season is really mixed up. Yellow star thistle doesn’t even bloom until July, and here it is, standing on the shoulders of plants you thought were dead, taking a second lap for 2016.
Forests and winters mean mushrooms. More today, and I watched carefully for some that might ordinarily be missed.
This one, for example, black and invisible at foot level.
This one, even more so. An imperceptible smear of black on the horizontal surface of an old stump.
When I got back to the car, the deer had been chased out of the volunteer parking lot, but I had to arm-wrestle the wild turkeys to get back to my car.
I especially like the one on the right, trying to decide whether it wanted to buy a car like mine.