Saturday, October 02, 2010

Autumn’s definitely here …

Blogging is enough for me. I don’t really understand Twitter but if I was about to “twit” (twoo?) I would say, “grey day drizzle … blogging excuse to stay inside … cooking lunch excuse not to blog … just fried pigs’ brains with sage leaves ’n capers, served on toast rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil … broke no-alcohol-day resolution to wash it down with cold Sauvignon … reflect that life in autumnal French countryside not too bad."

The weather has taken a sudden change. After the driest of springs and summers, it’s a pleasure to see the rain again and timely after we’ve re-sown the back field. The temperature has dropped and that gave us enough of an excuse to light the first of the season’s homely fires in our wood stove, although we overdid it the other evening and ended up with windows and doors open, trying to shed a bit of excess heat. A few more warm days would be welcome to help establish the pasture seedlings before winter.

Autumn is mushroom season, and we’ve had our first meal of wild mushrooms. In Mycelium Running, Paul Stamets tells us that, “although we notice mushrooms when they pop up, their sudden appearance is the completion of cellular events largely hidden from view—until the inquisitive mycophile digs deeper.” So, if we were to probe under the old oak tree at the side of our house, we would find the mycelium of the shaggy inkcap mushroom, Coprinus comatus. When the conditions are right, it is this mushroom which pops its head above the parapet … only to suffer the indignity of being felled by my trusty (rusty?) Opinel and thrown into a frying pan with some beaten eggs. Free, wild, mushroom omelette. Left in place, these mushrooms “auto-deliquesce” into an inky mess.

It’s thus also time to take the wraps (black plastic bin liners) off the sycamore stumps in our woods that we inoculated with the spawn of oyster mushrooms last winter. As you can see, the mycelium (white fungus-y stuff) has spread throughout the stump and is ready to begin fruiting soon, supplying us with edible mushrooms while it slowly eats the stumps over the next few years. The trick is to keep the wood host from drying out—something that’s taken us a few attempts to learn—hence the bin liners. I’ll post pictures of our first crop, watch this space.