A Little Solstice

IMG_4563We have come inside. By winter solstice, hibernation should be on the agenda. But, until recently, our weather has been so mild that we have continued with outside play. This week, with short days, a little rain, a little bluster, some frost, and a lot of gray, we finally took up wintertime pursuits.

A little Jack Frost artwork on our wooden steps. It looked almost like a woodcut.

A little Jack Frost artwork on our wooden steps. It looked almost like a woodcut.

Looks a bit like the frost fronds.

Looks a bit like the frost fronds.

George is building a beautiful bookcase, I’m making a quilt, marking up the FEDCO seed catalog, and indulging in a frenzy of beekeeping research (what kind of hive, what kind of bees, how many hives, when to order …. I’m in heaven).

We have a lot of apples wedged in tree branches. Some little critter snacked on this one.

Our property is an artwork of apples wedged in tree branches. Some little critter snacked on this one.

We had a sunny day right before Solstice and I set out to take some fungi and moss photos.

A puffball of some sort?  With a spiderweb filament across it's doorway?

A puffball of some sort? With a spiderweb filament across it’s doorway?

I grew up in New England’s woods and seemed to learn plant names by osmosis. But mushrooms, lichen, and mosses remained just that–mushrooms, lichen, and mosses–I never got any farther down the identification route.

I'm pretty sure this is a turkey tail fungus.  Lovely against the stump patterns.

I’m pretty sure this is a turkey tail fungus. Nice against the stump patterns.

Inspired by several fellow bloggers and determined to further my education, I found some lovely examples. IMG_4425But I’m still working on figuring out what they are.  IMG_4449Unfortunately most of the online sites focus on edible fungi, so I’m still in the dark on most of these.  IMG_4507IMG_4401I have been doing descriptive searches, such as “golden fungus surrounding branch” to no avail.  IMG_4321Granted, I haven’t spent much time on this (too busy researching bees), but if I wait to identify them, I’ll never get this posted.  IMG_4519I really need to get a book.IMG_4432

Things aren’t any better on the moss identification front.  But I love their miniature landscapes.IMG_4464

IMG_4466IMG_4336IMG_4389After months without a fox sighting, this week George spotted this fellow sunning across the street.IMG_4532At first I thought he might be sick or dead, he was so still.  But no, he just took advantage of a nice protected area to catch a little sun on a windy, raw day.  Smart boy.IMG_4542

Aside from the one bright day, IMG_4416we have had low clouds or have been socked in with fog.

Solstice afternoon.

Solstice afternoon.

Gloomy outside, but oh-so-very cozy within.  I appreciate the four distinct seasons here and the pendulum swing of winter solstice.

Water crystals in our roadside ditch.

Water crystals in our roadside ditch.

Zoe loves the winter. Happy holidays.IMG_4672

44 thoughts on “A Little Solstice

  1. I love the frost patterns. I’ve never seen anything like that.
    Those are definitely turkey tails and very beautiful ones at that.
    The third one down from the turkey tails is the milk white, toothed polypore (Basidioradulum radula).
    I think your orangey gold crust fungus on the underside of the branch might be orange crust fungus (Stereum complicatum). The jelly like fungus in the tree wound looks like witches butter (Tremella mesenterica).
    Hope this helps. Merry Christmas!

    • The frost patterns were new to me too. They looked like a tapestry and I have a whole panel of photos of them.
      Thanks for your IDs. I love plants, but funny how I never bothered to learn the fungi and mosses. I only posted a fraction of the ones I found. Every dead branch and trunk seems to have some interesting stuff breaking it down. And we are very rocky here, with a wide variety of lichen … Another new interest to pursue. I love the name witches butter, wonder how that came about.

      Merry Christmas to you! And happy woods wandering for the new year.

      • One story about the witches butter name says that it was thought to have the power to counteract witchcraft if the fruit bodies were thrown on to a blazing fire.
        You can’t ask for more in December than being able to get into the woods to see lichens, mosses and fungi.

  2. A busy woman is a happy woman, and I’m thinking you probably have a smile on your face with all this gardening, research, and quilting. Life seems to be treating you quite well, and that is a good thing. Merry Christmas from your NH neighbor. Best wishes for a terrific 2016. 🎄

    • Never thought I’d be this busy in retirement. But it’s a good busy and you’re right about the smile. I look Chesire-catty. Merry Christmas to you neighbor and cheers to a wonderful new year.

  3. Those frost patterns are amazing. Lovely photos. I’ve been thinking about bee-keeping too. Something for the new year. Have a lovely Christmas. X

    • Thanks Sam. I kept bees for a short time many, many years ago and I am thrilled to be able to do it again. They are fascinating. I hope you decide to give it a go so that we can compare and contrast. Or just head scratch. Lovely Christmas to you too, and wishing you a bee-dazzled new year.

    • Thanks Beth. We absolutely love being retired and love it here in Maine. So, on top of feeling extraordinarily fortunate, we’re kind of revoltingly happy. Merry Christmas to you in Georgia!

  4. So wonderful that you’re happy! A very merry Christmas to you and yours, including, of course, darling Zoe. Love those pictures, and I look forward to reading more of your posts in the new year.

    • Merry Christmas to you Steve! I’m happy to hear that you are back to blogging. I tried to leave you a comment before you shut your blog down, but I’m not sure that it went through. I sometimes have problems leaving comments on your blog (a wordpress incompatibility?) In any case, welcome back! Hope you and your hounds are doing well.

  5. Lovely fungus and lichen photos, they are fascinating and some glorious colours. What an interesting pattern the frost made on your steps I thought it was a doodle drawing until I saw the caption. A bee-man delivered a hive of native stingless bees here last week. They are very tiny, and have been put near the veggie garden. I don’t think you get much honey from them. Dear old Zoe looks to be in 7th heaven. Hope you are having a lovely and relaxing Christmas and I’m looking forward to seeing the spring unfold in your area. (I do miss the 4 seasons)

    • Thanks Pauline. The frost was so beautiful, I had never seen anything quite like it. Is it common for people to keep native bees in hives there? We have quite a few wild wasps and bees here and I know people put up bee “houses” to attract them for pollination, but I’ve not heard of actually keeping them in a hive. Very interesting, I must do some more research! The only thing that would make Zoe any happier is about a foot of snow, and we may get that next week …

      • There are hundreds of native bees the bee man told us, many only pollinate one specific native flower and the imported bees are killing them so no bees for that particular flower means the flower species dies out also.Native bees are only a hobby not commercial and kept by people keen to help conserve them.The bee man was very interesting. The bees are very tiny, about the size of an ant

      • Fascinating. I’m so enjoying doing bee research. What a pleasure to have the time to fully dive into an interest. So much to learn (so little time!! …. )

  6. Happy New Year! I love your fungus photos, especially the turkey tails (their colors always make me want to use it as a color scheme for decorating a room).

    • Happy New Year to you Jean! You’re right about the turkey tails, what a fantastic idea for a color scheme. Hmmm … I may use your idea for weaving, when I eventually take it up again.

    • Thanks. Now that I’ve started taking fungus photos, I see fungus everywhere. As for the frost on the steps,we’ve had simpler patterns before, but those really delicate swirls and whorls only showed up one morning.

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