A Walk in the Woods
The bracken is dying now and the trees are ridding themselves of this year's clothing. So 2006. So this year. Time for something new. So they shake themselves naked; and their rags flutter in fragments to the ground and form a temporary mosaic.
There is still a trace of green there, still some brown. Still some rich russets and some glossy auburns. Autumn. Like a vixen before winter. Held for a moment in this photograph - each ribbed leaf, each torn edge telling a tale: where insects drilled, where birds pecked, where the wind blew one against the other. Each one a miraculous little factory of memories in its layer upon layer of cells. This was 2006 - spring and then summer - and soon it will be gone.
We came across a suspended cycleway which reminded me of the first Ray Bradbury story I read about hunters transported back in time to a primeval forest. For a while we dawdled along it - immersed but apart.
We were looking for fungus: it is Hodmandod Minor's big fascination. From an early age he has loved to look at pictures of toadstools - we used to buy him books on mushrooms and toadstools when he was still a very young child and then find them still open on his bed while he slept. Autumn is a good time for them but maybe this year we were a little late. People had obviously been before us; we found stalks and overturned cups strewn alongside the path as though we were exploring the field of a battle. So we went off the path and further into the forest where the rain rattled off the trees, gathered into small pools on branches and thudded onto the ground beside us. Deciduous forest gave way to plantations of conifers and the ground became softly padded with the luxurious pile of millions of old needles. Above us the trunks of young trees moved gently apart with each gust of wind like the ribs of a sleeping giant.
Eventually we came across some Fairy-Ring Champignon in a broken circle.
Then on a bank of decaying wood and mud this bracket-shaped fungus which I think may be Oyster Fungus (rather than a proper bracket fungus since it has gills rather than a poroid undersurface)
and two stink horns exuding a glutinous stinking glue - which is attractive to insects.
According to the Stinkhorn homepage this fungus hatches from an 'egg' and relies on insects to spread its spores.
'I bet you say something disgusting about this on your blog,' said the sixteen year old Hodmandod Minor as we examined it. But of course I won't. I leave that to Linnaeus who gave it its genus if not its species...