August is the rain season and the end of summer here in Alaska. Typically, the rain starts in mid July. However, this year, it had rained all summer. Last week it just rained 24/7. These August rains bring mushrooms of all kind. They pop out all over the yards and in the boreal forest. With the mushrooms, there comes a moldy smell. The air is full of spores. Sometimes it is so strong that you have the feeling it stinks and/or everything is moldering.
For me, the smell announces the end of summer. In mid August, the first leave start turning yellow. The fireweed that blossomed in pink in July and turned the last year’s burned areas into a pink sea of flowers starts to build the seeds. Once they pop the seeds will fly in cotton-like packages. There is a saying that when that happens the first flurries are just 6 weeks away.
Many Alaskans drive out to the burned areas as these fire scars provide a favorable environment for morels that sell very high and only grow on these areas. However, it is hard to predict which fire scar will have them. Of course, people keep their secrets. They sell the morels at the farmers market. Many Alaskans also gather bolete and dry them to eat them later. I am more a berry picker. I like picking Alaska raspberries (see photo below), cranberries, gooseberries, and blueberries.
A couple of years ago, we had a king bolete in our yard. This mushroom is also known as porcino in Italy and cep in France. In our yard, there are currently 7 different kinds of mushrooms (see the collage for some of them). In some years, we even have some fly agarics. The squirrels seem to like them, and obviously, can eat them more than one time. 😉 I have seen them several times picking them. They also pick the brown ones in the collage below.
We always have many of these gemmed puffballs, which I don’t like. When they are done, they are just like a dark chocolate skin with a whole at the top when looked at from the outside. However, when you touch them with your shoes or the lawn mover, they push out a black cloud of spores. This powder cloud is very concentrated and reaches about 4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm) high. When you wear Converse, Keds or Vans or this stuff hits your pants they are ready to go into the washer. 😦
Do you pick mushrooms? What kind of mushrooms do you gather? Or are you more like me, who loves to take photos of them? Let me know by email, I am curious.
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Outfit photos: G. Kramm (2016)
Mushroom photos: N. Mölders (2016)
Copyright 2013-2016 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved