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[personal profile] ritaxis
We went up "back o' Cowell" today to check on Zak's guess that boletes have come and gone for the year already. Apparently they have. Their big flush is usually around Thanksgiving and maybe as much as a week in either direction, with a few of them before that and a trickle throughout the rest of the rainy season.

The key word there is rainy. We have had very little rain, even for early winter. The ground up there was dry, almost as dry as summer. There was very little mycological action of any kind. And very little moss, though there was some here and there, mostly at the expected stage of development, but furled inwards because of the lack of moisture. The logs were mostly bare! We did see one log with a bunch of little creamy lumps that the nice fellow thinks might turn out to be oyster mushrooms (pleurotis). Our native oyster mushrooms are large and white and tender, and some people think they are too bland, but they are one of my favorites to cook with fresh. Some people call them angel wings. We also saw a large and handsome calyptrata, but I have taken a firm stand that I will accept no more calyptrata. We don't like the taste of them fresh, and dried -- well, we have tons of dried boletes and craterellus still from past years, why should I go to all the trouble of slicing and preserving something we don't like as much?

Which is my current opinion on amanita muscaria, no matter how much we enjoyed them with David Arora. You have to blanche amanita muscaria to remove the emetic alkaloids, and then you can sautee them, and sometimes they come out lovely, but they are more fuss than they're worth if you can get your hands on a chanterelle or a queen bolete. We didn't see any amanita muscarias, anyway. We did see this other amanita-ish mushroom that is associated with them -- they grow together, often -- whose edibility is unknown. It's known not to have muscarine or whatever that stuff is called, but it is not known not to have other toxins in it.

Anyway, the forest is dry at the moment, even though we had a paltry rain yesterday. This is a section of forest which in "normal" years is a wetlands, crisscrossed with tiny, fast-moving streams, and muddy enough to make you worry about getting across it. This is how wet it is: orange peel fungus grows right in the paths, sometimes.

Until recently, nobody official has been saying the d word. Except in the general, "we always have to be prepared for it" sense. We are on water restrictions, but they are pretty mild: you have to put a trigger-grip thing on your hose if you want to water after 10 or before 5, or if you want to wash your car with a hose (I thought they had passed an ordinance against washing the car with a hose, already, but apparently not). But Saturday's headline was all about water rationing being "on tap." I can't decide whether to hate or love punning headline writers.

Fifteen years ago they said we were going to run out of water in 2005 if we didn't do something drastic like build a new reservoir, dig new wells, build a desalination plant, or buy water from out of county. I think we enlarged a reservoir or built a new small one, fixed some mains, and pushed water conservation in a big way. So it's 2007 and we haven't had to import any water yet. We're looking at the desal plant -- it will be a joint project with a small water district in a semi-rural part of the county, last I heard. In dry years Santa Cruz will take some, and otherwise Soquel Creek Water District will use some. I don't gdet how that works, but I know that though it's supposed to be a smallish desal operation, it's not supposed to be operated at capacity very often. But that will take years.

Is there any wonder that the town leaders are beginning to demand that the University cooperate in water planning?

I'm on an upward bounce right now so I'm tightening up the regime, even though it's that weird season when I have to make cookies and crap. So far I've made fruitcake and almost made one kind of cookies. I was out to make refrigerator pinwheel cookies with choloate and vanilla dough but the dough was all crumbly when I took it out of the refrigerator and they ended up being marbleized roll cookies which I cut with the tree and bell cutters. And then the oven wouldn't light. We put it on a cleaning cycle and now I think I can bake the cookies. I had Emma get Costco walnuts and pecans so I can make traditional walnut balls and I have this idea for tiny pecan tartlet dealies (we have a "gem" pan I almost never use -- it's like a muffin pan but the wells are tiny. Or we also have these small star molds originally meant for jello. I could use those) All the sweets are for other people, for example the young man at Hogwarts-Night Watch who has no oven.

The point of that paragraph was actually that gaining those five pounds, which puts me back at thirty-five pounds lost, makes me feel really much heavier, bulkier, and more awkward. I used to be puzzled when some slender, willowy person would complain about having gained five pounds. Now I know. Two kilos plus up is really noticeable.

Also I couldn't sleep last night. I mean I couldn't go to bed.

Also, in the forest -- I breathe better than anywhere else. That is, I do in an open mixed-semihardwood forest, redwood, pine, scrub oak, tan oak, madrone and deep duff forest with lots of sky and a sweet still air, just cool, not chilly. Which is good, because it means I go uphill better than other places.

So I don't much care about whether we find a nice stash of king or butter or queen boletes, because it's really lovely in the forest in the morning. Dry or wet.
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