Monday, February 8, 2010

It snows...and then it doesn't...then maybe it snows again...

The snow situation is nothing like what's going on in other parts of the country...but maybe it could be if the snow in this area tried a little harder to be more steady about what it's doing!!! I'm giving it a C+ for effort. It has been snowing though...but then it melts, sometimes at the same time as when it's falling. At some point it must secretly snow during the day or night because there's just a questionable fresh look to the fallen snow every time I look outdoors.

This morning I watched chunks of snow fall from the trees but that doesn't qualify as "snowing," does it? You can see some of the imprints of the snowballs that fell beside these starling tracks.....I just looked out the window, it's snowing again (looks like a C- for effort this time).

With all this half-hearted snowing and then having most of it disappear only to reappear a day or so later or overnight, let's just say it's very humid out there.

I drove out to that land in Kansas yesterday.

There was absolutely no other sound in the area but the fast movement of water in the creek.

And of course while all the melting snow filled the creek, it started to snow...not that it made much difference in the landscape but the humidity was doing something.

I realize it's winter so there shouldn't be that much color but for some reason, the neutral colors just seemed brighter...even beneath an overcast snowy sky.

The brilliant yellow green of this lichen and moss/fungi combo just glowed.

At the other end of the dead log was something I had never seen before. A tree-ear fungus.

They really do look like ears! Like vampire bat ears. >:-)

The cold and the wet of winter fills this fungi with water and when it becomes warmer and drier later in the year...they'll dry up and look completely different.

I'm going to have to remember to check and see if this is their dry form (same log but from several weeks ago when it was not so wet outdoors).

There are lots of dead trees or dead parts of trees on that land so looking for different kinds of fungi was a small adventure yesterday. Not that that was what I was looking for but every visit presents something new and this time, the theme of the day was dead trees and fungus.

The tree fungi actually are very pretty... for being fungus and all.

I pass by this tree a lot. It's the only one I've seen that has this stuff growing on it. The dead or dying tree is completely covered with these white textural patches. It' a pretty dramatic look, winter or summer.

The live trees were very pretty up close too and they all had an individual look to them. This tree had some golden vertical growth lines and a few lichens.

This one had very pretty multi-colored bark which had a slight greenish cast to it.

This one was extremely textural in a geological sort of way. The bark looked like eroded layers of sedimentary rock.

This one looked like powdered gingerbread.

And this one was very, very smooth. I know that this tree is a hickory but I think all the other ones are probably oaks or oak impostors (I could see nothing but "brown" black and/or white oak leaves on the ground beneath them).

It didn't take much for me to find trees in distress though. That patch of white in the middle? That's not snow in the tree, that's snow you can see through a hole in the tree!

And there are a lot of trees out there that look like ents buried upside-down with their heads in the ground. When I see these trees with two trunks, I think of Carol Hummel's underpants trees every single time.

Here is one of her trees in seasonally appropriate long johns...

I have a lot of trees in this upside-down position on that land. I'm going to need a lot of XXXXXXXXXXXXXL underpants if I can't move beyond looking at them like upside-down tree people. Good thing these trees from Sunday had the good sense to wear modesty patches. :-? Gawd.

Trees are a symbol of time and endurance and strength but I know the trees in my Kansas City yard require a lot of maintenance. Things happen. Ice storms, snowstorms, tornadoes and just general rottenness. Those trees on my land in Kansas? Just about every tree out there has a major story to tell about something that happened that shouldn't have if that tree lived in a perfect gardening world. If those trees were cats, those trees I'll be living with eventually are definitely of the stray cat persuasion.

All I can to do this first year is get to know the trees I see most often and find a way to make them sturdier and healthier. I've always loved trees and if I don't see a tree directly outside a window, I find a way to get one there. As for the fungi, I have to admit trying to identify what's growing on a dead or dying tree is pretty fascinating. I just don't want to see them on every tree, you know?


Maureen said...

Beautiful pictures!

Leenie said...

Your snow IS wimpy. But the high humidity has produced some very amazing fungus-y decorations. I loved them all. So spooky-weird and alien looking to someone from high altitude--minus ten humidity country. Thanks for being so observant and sending the photos along.

Best wishes on caring for those ents and upside downers. Yeah some of them DO need pants.

Toon said...

Fungus rocks! If that unidentified stuff isn't slime mold I don't know what is. What else could it be called??

Maria said...

Thanks Maureen! It's always pretty out there, even WITH fungus.

Leenie-The wimpy, wimpy, wimpy snow is still falling.

That fungus that looks like algae that washed up on shore was totally unexpected. Oddest looking stuff. I kept poking at it. Who knew that cold, wet winter weather produced alien-looking fungi???

Yeah, there are too many ents with their heads in the ground out there. What causes that? It's just plain weird.

Mr. Toon-I'm new to this fungus thing. I don't know about slime mold, I think that's something different, but that tree ear fungus is also known as jelly fungus. You can call it that. And it's supposed to be edible too. Eeeeeeee.