Musings on a Damp Summer Morning

     I awoke this morning to the subdued aftermath of last night’s raging rainstorm.  The second in two days, the storm had pummelled our ridge, yanked trees this way and that, and  lashed the house with angry fits of hard rain.

     Now the air felt friendly, the fresh breeze light and caressing.  But signs of last night’s siege were everywhere.  Branches, large and small, littered the driveway.  Oak twigs, fully alive with their perfect leaves and  firm green acorns fallen before their time, lay here and there on the ground.  I wondered if the animals would find these unripe summer versions of their favorite food acceptable.

       As I strolled down the hill into the woods, my attention was immediately absorbed by the greenshield dotting, splotching, coating many of the trees.  Were my eyes drawn to this lichen all about because I had just written about greenshield for this website (http://www.theearthconnection.org/blog/2010/08/the-secret-life-of-greenshield/)?  Or was the greenshield greener than usual this morning, holding moisture from last night’s storm? 

     Gazing at the myriad manifestations of this greenish lichen on one tree after another, I noticed that what I had read is indeed true.  Greenshield is most prominent at the base of a tree.  Yes, on just about every tree I looked at, the greenshield appeared thickest and greenest just where the trunk’s bark met the ground.  And mosses, bright green and plump, reached upward from the earth, joining the greenshield on the tree’s lowest bark.

     As I crouched to examine the life at the base of a large chestnut oak, I noticed just inches from the tree the tiniest, daintiest white wildflower growing up between some mosses.  How lovely, I thought, were these two close neighbors, one so massive and one so slight, living next to each other in perfect harmony.   

     Also very alive-seeming on this damp morning were the fungi.  They too looked fatter and fuller after the rain.  I was intrigued by a dense colony of little shelflike fungi, clustered in a concave portion of the base of a tall oak.  There in the lee of this living tree, away from the sun’s drying warmth, dampness reigned to create the perfect home for this little fungus community.  And farther down the hill, tiny white fungi grew on a log, but only along the edges of the bark tearing away from the wood inside.  The fungus formed a perfect trim for the bark’s torn edges.  

     And there was a third fungus I especially enjoyed, this one for its surprising precision.  Back in the driveway, in the woodpile, was a piece of wood that was almost completely ringed by some small shelflike fungus.  The circular, cross-section of the firewood, however, was entirely bare, circled by the fungus growing from the bark. 

     Bright, sunny days have nothing on a damp, post-storm morning when the lingerning wetness accentuates beauties that may go unnoticed in the bright light.–April Moore 

a fungus colony in the 'lee' of the base of an oak trunk

a fungus colony in the 'lee' of the base of an oak trunk

         

fungus growing along the torn edges of bark

fungus growing along the torn edges of bark

 

fungus encircling firewood

fungus encircling firewood

2 Responses to “Musings on a Damp Summer Morning”

  1. Elizabeth Cottrell Says:

    April, your powers of observation along with your beautiful writing and photos are such a wonderful combination. You’ve taught me to be more observant about the things in nature all around me every day that we so easily miss if we don’t pay attention.

  2. Joan Brundage Says:

    April, I loved your after the storm descriptions of the forest. On Sunday, Alan and I will take our 2 dogs up on Mt. Lemon here in Tucson where we will look for greenshield on the trees. Thanks!

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