With the autumn rains come the mushrooms. Most hide themselves in browns and mottled tans, lurking under the leaves and against the trunks of trees. But not the fly agaric. It shouts from under oaks and birches across most of the northern hemisphere–the classic toadstool.
Don’t eat this one. From the University of British Columbia’s Mushrooms Up! website: “It should be noted that very few people who have experimented with eating fly agarics have chosen to repeat the experience.”
As the days get shorter, trees prepare to rest for the winter. The green chlorophyll in the leaves breaks down and is reabsorbed into the tree to be reused in spring. For a few glorious weeks in the fall, the oranges and yellows (and browns) that have been there all along, hidden by the green, let themselves be seen. The reds and purples, though, are newly created in fall, possibly to protect the tree from sunburn or pests.
Even now this landscape is assembling. The hills darken. The oxen sleep in their blue yoke, the fields having been picked clean, the sheaves bound evenly and piled at the roadside among cinquefoil, as the toothed moon rises:
This is the barrenness of harvest or pestilence. And the wife leaning out the window with her hand extended, as in payment, and the seeds distinct, gold, calling Come here Come here, little one