The "secret pond" area below the cliffs, swampy at best, is LaBarque Creek floodplain, and the post-Christmas flood covered a great deal of it with sand, silt, and matted driftwood, and as I descended into my annual early-spring exploration of the area -- impassable because of mud in winter, and in summer and fall with the thorny shrubs, green and succulent, eager to rip your face off -- I didn't know whether to expect mud, water, drowned animals' bones, or what. I'd heard that the silt and sand might cover and suffocate this year's mushroom community. So I looked with hope for the Scarlet Cups (Sarcoscypha austriaca), always the first fungi of the year around here, at maximum about 5cm across. This is the only place on the property where this Sarcoscypha, with its white rickrack, grows. As usual the cups, although small, were hard to miss, fresh and vivid, growing on rotting fallen branches among last autumn's leaves. Spring is about a week early, but it couldn't come fast enough for us.
I had not spent a whole morning outside in months. I forgot what it was like to spend a morning outside, and what a refreshment the air could be, and how pleasant the sun if I sat down and took it in, and the trees taller than I remembered. Hawks were calling; they're seeking mates right now. In the coming days I will get photos that will tell more of the post-flood story.