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Showing posts from September, 2016

Fall Fungus

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GOING NATURE’S WAY By Kate Crowley
If there is a silver lining to be found in this very wet autumn, it is found in the forests.  I’m not talking about the leaves, which are very slowly turning color; I’m referring to the vast assortment of mushrooms on the forest floor and on the sides of some trees.  We just returned from a week’s hiking in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and I have to say, we have never seen such abundance and variety in the Fungi Kingdom.  The people we were with, I’m happy to report, were just as excited as Mike and I and demonstrated a sense of wonder that adults normally lose.  Overall, I prefer to just observe the variations in shape, size, texture and color of mushrooms.  I do like to eat the types sold in grocery stores and Morels are a favorite in the spring, but I have only eaten a few ‘wild’ mushrooms and that only happened when I absolutely trusted the knowledge of the person I was with.  In Europe people have been hunting, picking and eating wild mushrooms…

Great Blue Heron on the Cumberland River

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WINGIN’ IT By Kate Crowley We are currently cruising up the Cumberland River, headed to Nashville.  This is all new territory for us and as naturalists we are excited to see new landscapes and rivers.  We call the Cumberland a river, but in this stretch, up from Paducah, it is part of a reservoir system created by the TVA in the 1930s.  Because it is such, there is far less current than we find on the Mississippi River and it is a popular spot for fishing;  For both people and birds. While we were docked in Paducah, on the Ohio, we looked out the window one morning and found ourselves being observed by a Great Blue Heron just a few yards away from us.  It was stalking, as these birds often do, along the very edge of the shore, lifting one impossibly long leg after the other in slow motion.  We could see how the toes flopped down when the foot was raised, and opened as they went back into the water. It tilted its head so its eye could see the water, then lifted it up and looked directly …