It’s About Time – October 2014

The weekend after Labor Day brought the sight of thousands of choice edible russula mushrooms around Waldo Lake, but most were dry as a bone. A single thunderstorm’s drenching a week earlier brought them out of the forest floor. Then they were betrayed by the summer’s continuing heat and drought. Nevertheless, we can be hopeful that the usual October beginning of the rainy season may yet bless the high mountains with a bounty of delicious treasures. We will find out at the mushroom show at Mount Pisgah Arboretum on Oct. 26.

Sky gazers will be treated to two eclipses this October. The most spectacular is the lunar eclipse, an alarm clock event with totality from 3:27 am until 4:22 am Wednesday morning the 8th. The partial phase will be still viewable by early morning risers, lasting until 5:32 am. My favorite viewing time is right after the total eclipse, when the moon is still red just after re-emergence. On Oct. 23 we can (carefully) observe an afternoon partial solar eclipse.

Brushing the dog after walking down by the ponds reminds me this is the season of stickery seeds. Bedstraw is a common native with precisely formed hooks on its seeds. The most widespread in open meadows and roadsides is Queen Anne’s Lace. It has flat topped, white flower heads all summer long. The seed heads are gathered into infolded flower stalks with miniscule seeds about a tenth of an inch long clustered together. Each flower head produces about 3,000 seeds.