Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Among the eucalyptus

This morning I walked in Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery, amazed at how green everything has become, seemingly overnight. A little more than a week ago the predominant colors were tan and dark gray. I'm always thrilled by the sudden transformation of the landscape here in northern California, when it starts to rain at the end of a long, dry summer.

Anyway, I noticed a spot of orange far away, in the stand of eucalyptus along a creek at the edge of the property. Whipping out my binoculars confirmed my suspicion that I'd stumbled upon a lovely specimen of Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus gilbertsonii). I decided this was a perfect opportunity to try out my adorable new travel watercolor set. Uh, well, it actually took an hour just to draw everything. All of that peeled eucalyptus bark can take a while to get down on paper! I had to be somewhere so I left, hoping I could make it back later in the day, which I did. Luckily there was cloud cover all day, so the light was unchanged when I returned at the end of the day. Painting in the field isn't so easy, I found. It didn't help that Daylight Savings had begun, and it was growing dark as I painted. I worked a bit more on the sketch after I got home.

Laetiporus gilbetsonii fruits on decaying wood and will reappear each year. Although I've never tried eating it, some people find it quite tasty while others get an upset tummy. The upset stomach may be due to eating older mushrooms, or mushrooms that haven't been thoroughly cooked. I love finding this mushroom. On a gray, dreary day, it's bright color just makes me smile!

Oh, the white blob on the left is last year's fruiting and the white "bloom" at the bottom of the new fruiting is white spores.


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