Ahhh..Slocan B.C. This little treasure is embraced by the mouth of the Slocan River, Springer Creek and tree covered mountains that dress in sunshine, cloud, mist and rainbows depending on their mood.
The view from my daughter and her wife’s deck allows a calm entry into the day with a coffee in one hand, a camera in the other, a feast for the eyes and a fresh rain to decorate your nose.
I’m getting ahead in the story so let’s go back a few days when I left Saskatoon, heading west in the early morning. The sun slowly caught up to me and decorated my rear view mirror with a small rim of glowing orange, outlining the horizon.
Clouds continued to add drama and delight to the landscape heading across the prairies.
Fall is harvest time for farmers, gardeners and mushroom lovers. Looking deep into boxes of harvested fruit and vegetables often reveals many creatures hidden among the bounty of food. This tiny little mass of sand and debris was slowly crawling along the bottom of a box of tomatoes. BugGuide tells me it is likely the larval stage of an Ambush bug. Covering its body with debris and sand allows it to be undetected and pounce upon its prey.
Sarah was in her garden and found this adult Jagged Ambush Bug hanging out on a sunflower. It is perhaps the adult version of the above larva. Ambush bugs have powerful front legs to grasp a passing insect and a massive proboscis, the thing with the pointy brown tip below the mouth, used to paralyze and inject digestive enzymes. And you thought a bear was scary.
A light drizzle beckoned us out on a mushroom excursion. Trails winding through public land, along the mountain side leading to a waterfall and Springer Creek, are littered with forest debris, rotting logs and a perfect environment for mushroom lovers. Our walk was punctuated with many moments of ‘Just a minute while I check out this beauty’.
The onus for naming mushrooms has fallen upon individuals with a keen sense of humour and insight or perhaps a propensity for tasting the product prior to naming.
This one for example is called Slippery Jack.
iNaturalist tells me these next ones could be Western Witch’s Hat or Candy Apple Waxy cap. It is easy to imagine a forest gnome or leprechaun using one for an umbrella.
This one belongs to the Russula group. Sorry, no cool crazy name available.
These two Bracket Fungi belong to a group commonly seen on the side of a dying or diseased tree. These are likely called Red-Banded Polypore.
Really tough to give this one a name but it could be a ‘Fat Jack’. Name sounds good in any case.
The name I like best for this one suggested by iNaturalist is a Western Hollow Jack.
Possibly a Gem-Studed Puffball. Many of you may have memories similar to mine, of finding the dry brown balls on the prairie, often close to a dried-up cow-pie. When kicked by a youthful prairie explorer the spores would blow out with great abandon to the delight of your young brain.
Oh so colourful and so aptly named. I give you the Jelly fungi.
It just happened that we were exploring this area during the annual contest set up by the Oregon Grape plant. They compete for a prize to claim ‘Most Creative Display of One Red Leaf’. The contest was in full swing on the day we were scouring the area for mushrooms.
The recent misty rain fall created a resurgence of rain drops nestled in the hollow of many leaves. No published data seems to exist to verify that these leaves would obviously be used by forest gnomes to be used as mirrors and magnify their gorgeous faces.
Sarah noticed a mushroom perfectly lodged between the branches of an evergreen, on a trail above the house and told me squirrels had put it there to dry and use in the winter. Here is the Coles Notes explanation of the scientific method to examine if this is fact.
- The working hypothesis is that ‘Squirrels put mushrooms in trees.’
- The presence of squirrels in the vicinity must be established.
A conversation with the three in house squirrel chasers established beyond doubt that there are squirrels in the area. Who would argue with these three?
3. Photographic evidence proves that there is a mushroom in the branches.
4. Part of the mushroom was found on the ground below the mushroom in the tree. Close examination suggests that squirrel tooth marks are on the side. This will be confirmed with DNA analysis in the future.
5. A thorough search in the tree branches above revealed beyond doubt that the mushroom had not grown higher up and merely fallen into place.
Although some of my colleagues suggest an experiment where n=1 does not fulfill the criteria for valid research I rest my case with the solid evidence presented here.