Backyard Exploration

Over the summer I was out in the backyard every day, picking flowers, watching bees and bunnies, picnicking, pulling weeds and dead heading plants. Now that the flowers are all gone along with fall leaves, and even the bunnies are no longer seen munching peacefully on the lawn, I watch from the window and wait til the sky clears a bit to go out and explore. The beauty that I seek must be appreciated up close and personal now. And it sometimes requires lifting a low conifer branch to see what is hiding below.

watercolor and white gouache in beige toned Stillman and Birn sketchbook

. . .like the tiny cup fungi on a piece of lichen (lower right) that was the width of three fingers. I’m taking time to learn learn the names of trees, now that I know that it helps to identify the mushrooms that share the biosphere. I use the Leaf Snap app, which allows me to take a picture with my phone, identify the tree/plant/flower, and record the entry on site. Otherwise in my excitement I would often forget the details!

Norway Spruces – your usual Christmas tree – line the back of our property. Now I know where to look each year for these mushrooms. I have not yet graduated to learning the genus and species names of particular mushrooms. There are too many lookalikes and such a vast and diverse world of fungi! But the ones that look like little cups? or have waxy colorful caps? That I will remember!

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