Sunday, October 28, 2018

Puff and Blow

I was raking while barefoot because barefoot links us with Earth energies and all that, when I saw puffballs: One fresh (beige, about 3 inches in diameter) and one blown (the brown, tattered one on top) and rejoiced because I had thought the season was over. Promptly I obtained a paring knife and bag and harvested my dinner, provided that when I sliced it lengthwise it was pure white inside. It was. Puffers (in this case, Calvatia gigantea) barely have stems at all. When dried-out and brown their heads explode volcanically, sending spores far and wide.

Put on my hunter-orange cap and scoured the nearest quarter of the Divine Woods, all gold-leaf and black hieroglyph, for the same sort of prize, not finding a darned thing, and then I looked down and in the crevices of a log were whole colonies of puffers, little ones, also fresh.
These I scooped up not to eat but to propagate. All along the walk home I crumbled, threw and dropped the pieces, hoping for more puffers next fall. Not tired enough, I tried another trail and found another large puffer, not so fresh. This too I crumbled up and tossed hither and yon. May there be puffballs, a lot, next year. Tomorrow, after the hunters leave the area, hike into deeper woods to seek  more. To cook, slice them lengthwise, always making sure they're pure solid white inside, and saute in butter.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

R & R & T

I am a workaholic and realized I almost never spend whole days outdoors anymore. So out I go into the mists of October, scaring packs of deer who apparently thought this property was all theirs.

I have now re-engaged with recreation and hobbies. A two-mile walk today on an unexpectedly steep new trail I balanced with a half-hour of leisure in the zero-gravity chair with a pot of hot tea.

I'm taking Russian-language classes and barre classes. The Russian teacher lived four years in Moscow. She says, "Russia is the only country in the world where a poetry reading can fill a stadium." I plan to live on my Social Security in the lovely Silk Road city of Samarkand, Uzbekistan. They all speak Russian, and I'm glad they do, because there's no Uzbek-language classes around here.

Barre classes are ballet-inspired workouts but without the impact. I bought a package of 10 one-hour classes to deliberately invest too much to waste them. One hour in class draws only the most determined and addicted, because barre is torture and whips up those endorphins like, whoo-ee. The regulars -- there are lots! -- are all trim through the middle and have built a genuine booty. That's right, a booty worth writing home about. If I get one, I will post it. Twenty years older than most participants, I sometimes lag but never quit and after three classes am catching on.

Later I'll practice my bongos.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Judas' Ear

Rain brings for one day these delicate and translucent wood ear mushrooms, usually velvety brown, growing on thoroughly dead branches. They pop up at all times of year after a soaking. You'll find these in Chinese cuisine, but they are so light and flavorless -- really, they're jelled water -- they are not worth cooking and eating any other way, except for their 9 grams of protein per 100 grams of mushroom.

You have to, must, are required to cook them or they are not edible at all. They and the water they are cooked in are folk remedies for sore throats.

Latin name Auricularia auricula-judae tells a story: These are often called Judas's Ears, because Judas hanged himself from a tree.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Post-Season on the Black River

Camped out at the private Twin Rivers Landing on the Black River for two nights, on a writers' retreat with seven others. This area, the Arcadia Valley, is gorgeous, and will be even more so in a week or so when the foliage turns. Quite remote; 68 miles as the crow flies was more than 100 miles on the road. Perfect weather; we might as well have been indoors as out. Only two other campsites out of about 30 or so were occupied. It really is the post-season but they made an exception for us.

Mostly I either wrote in a notebook in the shade beneath a tree, supine in a zero-gravity chair; or we sat around the campfire with skewers and weenies, reading each other stories, recommending books, websites, and organizations. Saturday night I took a long walk by starlight; no moon, because the New Moon was Monday. This is sunrise on Sunday, one of the very few photos I took. The light was powder-pink.

What struck me is how I took for granted that I could take home my dew-sodden Kelty tent and tent-fly and lay them on my gravel to dry before packing them. The city dwellers had no room to do this. Draping the tent over a car parked on the street was not possible. Didn't have floor space indoors. Didn't have a back yard. Couldn't hang it from a window. That was once me, in a studio apartment. . . I camped state parks often, renting a car when I had to, because the city stifled me. . . How did I cope? I don't recall. I know only that I am blessed. On October 1, I have lived on the Divine property for 17 unbroken years.