Fly Agaric

Amanita muscaria

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.”

Amanita muscaria, fly agaric
Amanita muscaria, fly agaric

Reds and Golds of Fall

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.

golden leaves of a maple
Acer platanoides, Norway maple
Acer palmatum, Japanese maple

All Hallows

by Louise Glück

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

And the soul creeps out of the tree.

Aesculus hippocastanum, horse chestnut

From Louise Glück’s Poems 1962-2012