Thursday, February 4, 2010
I'm still amazed to think that I walked those trails (and other trails in other places) for ten or fifteen years and never noticed one mushroom before that day. At first I took pictures. I got a camera with a few more megapixels and I learned to take notes to help with identification. The notes began to include schematic sketches and, in time, the camera stayed at home and I found myself sitting or laying on the ground sketching mushrooms in the woods. It had been a long time since I'd had that kind of fun drawing anything and the honeymoon isn't over yet!
I still feel great fondness for the mushroom that I eventually learned to call Hygrocybe nigrescens. Surprisingly, the bright orange color wasn't enough to identify the mushroom. Was the stem slimy or dry? What kind of trees were in the area around it? Did the stem and/or cap blacken when bruised? This particular mushroom had already begun to blacken when I found it and it was fruiting among oak trees. The stem or stipe was dry. If it survives the rain of the next few days, it'll eventually turn completely black.