November is mushroom month in the cool, damp lower forests. Following the heavy fall rains myriads of toadstools come up over night, but the toads have departed. Something is wrong - we think it's the name. This week on a walk of a half mile around the trail of the Shadows, which, keeping in the edge of the heavy moist forests encircles the old beaver meadow and mineral springs at Longmire, the Naturalist counted no less than 27 species of fungi most of which were commonly classed as mushrooms.
On the dead hemlocks and fallen logs shelf-like Polyporaceae or "conk" is starting small white patches that in time may grow to be a foot or more across.
On other dead logs and stumps grow the tender pure-white oyster mushrooms while on the logs along side are the honey-colored Jack-o'lantern mushrooms that on dark nights glow with phosphorescence. Abundant everywhere on rotten wood are swiftly-growing masses of delicate coral-like Bears head fungus, one of several varieties of coral fungi.
Standing side by side in the leaf mold are the beautiful but deadly amanitas or Death Cup, and the ugly, sticky, but delicious and wholesome Equestrian tricheloma with its rough brownish cap and sickly yellow gills.
The variety of colors found is endless. Common everywhere are the Inky-Cup or Coprinus, beautiful, silvery, at first, but later jet black and inky and the white and brown delicately formed and splendidly proportioned Parasol Mushroom or Lepiota. Here and there are deep-brilliant blue Indigo lactarius and others range from sulphur yellow thru rich sepias to dark reds and ranges on to chocolate brown.
Many of these have been with us in unlimited number all summer but November and the fall rains have brought them in masses.
Yesterday a nasal "ti-ti-ti-ti-ti" in the small firs about the office announced the arrival of a flock of Golden-crowned Kinglets who have stopped with us for a day or two on their way south for the winter season. They are late this year and we had begun to think they were not coming.
During the past month also the brilliantly marked varied thrushes have gathered in from the dense woods and are abundant about the houses. For a few weeks each spring and again in the fall these little forest dwellers are as friendly as robins and far more abundant but for some strange reason thruout the summer they are shy and secretive. Why do they call merely to tell us "how-do-you-do" in the spring and "good-bye"-until next year" in the fall and avoid us all the rest of the season?
Other signs of fall are the abundance and sauciness of the Stellar Jays and the coming of the Magpies to the snowy valleys above.
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