Wednesday, July 30, 2014

In which we go for a nature walk and my children all sprout facial hair

Last week I took the kids for a walk at a little state park near our home. I got on the internet searching for a good place to go for a walk or hike near by when I came across this place. Strange thing about it was that it appears on the maps as a state park, but on a quick google search I found absolutely nothing about it, just the name listing it as a state park. Which seemed really weird, I mean google knows everything, right? But apparently not, because google couldn't tell me a thing about this place. And I mean it's not like we live in some really remote village in the darkest interior of Africa. But anyway, I found the name of the place and thought that we would check it out.

We pulled past the little ranger station (which was empty) and drove to the end of the road. There were a couple of trail heads there so I parked and we all piled out of the van. There were no signs saying how long the trails were or where they ended up, so we picked one of them at random. We had not seen another car or human being since pulling into the park, so I texted my husband giving him the exact information of where we were, just in case anything happened to us, he'd know where to start searching when he came home from work. 
As we started walking it became apparent that the park had actually been a very large farm once upon a time. There were the foundations of several large old houses, and a few log cabins, and a large barn, we even found an outhouse.

We had a picnic in the yard of the biggest farm house foundation under a big old chestnut tree. While we were eating we started hearing a very scary noise. I had never heard anything like it before. At first one of the boys thought it was a machine, but the closer it got to us the more obvious it became that it was an animal of some sort. We had already finished eating and were just sitting there playing, but I decided that we really didn't need to hang out in that spot any longer and find out what was making that noise. So we packed up and started walking again! (Once we were home we looked up bear and wild boar noises, and thankfully google did have an answer for this one! Turns out we were listening to wild boar! Yikes! I wasn't sure what to look up, but when we happened across the bear reserve sign mentioning bear and boar hunters on our way out I thought that it might have been one of those, so that's what I searched for.)

The trail we were on went past a large corn field, and Logan went over first and pulled off some of the old corn silk from the mature ears of corn. When I asked him what he planned on doing with it he promptly twisted some up and made a mustache with it. Of course everyone else had to join in the fun! We stood there in the shade next to that corn field laughing at each other and taking pictures of everyone for the longest time.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Mushroom Hunting Club

For over two years I have wanted to join the local Mycological Society and go with them on their mushroom hunting forays.It seemed like every time they were having a field trip I was either in labor, or had a newborn, or we were travelling, or something else was happening that prevented me from going. But this summer, we were home, I'm not pregnant and my baby is a happy, portable 7 month old. 

So...Early Saturday morning I got up and headed out with Violet to my first meeting with a local Mycological Society. We drove for a bit over two hours in the pouring rain to the meeting spot in a state park, thankfully the rain stopped just as we arrived. I put Violet in the backpack grabbed my basket and headed into the woods. We walked and collected mushrooms for a few hours, and the rain held off until we were making our way back into the picnic shelter where we were going to meet. At which point it began to pour on us! Violet had fallen asleep in her pack, but I had thought to bring a small umbrella with me just in case, so I popped it open and she actually slept through the entire storm! A while later everyone met up again at the shelter to compare and identify our finds. I had so much fun! It's not often I get a chance to go out exploring with other people (besides my immediate family) and learn so much in such a short time. First, all of the mushrooms were laid out on tables separating them into gilled and un-gilled varieties. And from there the experts set to work identifying them and labeling each species. One of the things I learned is that some of our very most abundant mushrooms in our own woods at home are some of the very deadliest! I learned to "positively" identify several edibles...but the thought of feeding mushrooms to my children that I collect myself without one of those handy experts to verify that they are indeed one of the choice edible varieties, still makes me nervous enough not to try it just yet... I think I'll study for a while longer before I feel very confident harvesting and eating my own mushrooms!

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