Week in the Woods (15 IX 19)

Cassie & I have deeply enjoyed another week of dedicated hiking. With sunset coming earlier, our after-work walks are more focused, but we can still squeeze in 60-90 minutes if we don’t waste time in preparation or travel.

And weekends, of course, offer an opportunity to spend time together exploring the great outdoors a little farther from our home. To see what inspiration we found this week, read on!

We’re always looking for colorful mushrooms (or anything else, for that matter).

These were out in plenty. We saw many of them in various stages of growth along the trail.

I found these bright yellow mushrooms at the base of a number of trees. I hope they’re edible, because someone harvested all of them!

Orange fungal fruit hiding in every nook & cranny.

These pretty little ladies were growing from the side of a mossy tree.

Some of these big boys were large enough to eat your dinner on. I admire an old battle axe like these, and I find them beautiful, too.

It seemed like every log supported a thriving colony of mushrooms. Each species had found an environment perfectly suited to itself and ignored by other varieties.

And not just mushrooms. It’s amazing what vital ecosystems lie fallen upon the forest floor.

For finding inspiration, it helps to bring a one-year-old. This stuff is all pretty amazing to her, and it’s hard to resist her enthusiasm.

My daughter's adorable hands investigate a oak apple gall.

A empty wasp gall makes a good toy, for instance!

And a leaf dancing upon a long spider’s thread is endlessly fascinating to her. And to me.

She’s a wonderful little buddy. She’s very patient, she’s got great endurance, and she shares my love of every cool thing in the woods. When we stopped to splash around in a nearly dry creek, she delighted in the darting of the minnows. I get to show her things like that, and do my best to explain them. It is an ideal partnership.

Back on the trail we found some impressive stalks in Raccoon Creek State Park.

And a field of sun-kissed goldenrod in Deer Lakes Park.

Even my work offered opportunities for a little mushroom hunting!

It was a great week in the woods. I know I’m building strong foundations for my daughter’s love of Nature, something my Mom nurtured in my brother and me. It’s also a wonderful way to transition between the stressful work I do and the quiet I like to enjoy with my family. Cassie is more than a part of my routine, she’s a driving force in my need to get well and truly outside. I regard these hikes as a blessing, a joy, and a responsibility.

And we never travel alone!

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