Week in the Woods (24 XII 19)

Winter Break has begun and that gives me more chances to get out hiking with Cassie. The cold which has enveloped us for many weeks broke right on time and left the woods a little soggy but full of interesting things to discover.

Look at these beauties. They’re pixie cap lichen, as far as I can tell. The tallest one is less than an inch tall. And here’s how I found them.

Cassie & I were out hunting for cool stuff, mushrooms, mostly.

I took this shot of some cool green & auburn false turkeytails on Sunday. When I got home I zoomed in and saw the awesome trumpet shaped lichens growing amidst the mushrooms and moss.

Cassie & I went out again in the same area Monday, but couldn’t find any other examples, so I returned to the same log and snapped a few pictures. My passenger was eager to head out, so I didn’t check the images carefully until I got home, where I realized that none were really usable. It can be hard to photograph minuscule objects with a squirmy baby strapped to your chest!

So Tuesday I returned with my clip-on macro lens and took the images you’re seeing here. The lens turned out to be a lot of fun, especially when I found some other great lichens just down the trail.

These are lipstick powderhorns, bravely displaying a few last red fruiting bodies for the year. They were incredibly tiny, but the color was spectacular!

Then I just started looking for cool tiny lichens, and there were plenty of them.

And moss!

And mushrooms!

There was much to see in the cool, foggy forest, just a little of which I’ll share here.

Turkeytails forming beautiful terraces
The spent bodies of brilliant yellow slime molds
Ice casts of the oak leaves
The remains of a stump puffball keeping a jelly fungus company
Cassie leading the way!
Fresh mushrooms
More mushrooms thriving in the cold
In the snow, even!
Sometimes you see just one patch of a particular variety in the whole woods
Some Christmas elves must have visited this holly bush in the night!

What a joy it is to get into the woods with someone I dearly love. The fog tickles our noses, the deer & the woodpeckers keep us company, and everywhere we have a chance to learn and wonder.

Now, both the pixie cups and the lipstick powderhorns belong to genus Cladonia, which also includes lichens which form the basis of the reindeer’s diet. Think about it. Ho ho ho!

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