Tuesday, May 17, 2011
In October of 2007, a big vibrantly colored fungal growth appeared on our oak. I duly cooked and served a good part of it, for it was the purportedly delectable chicken-of-the-woods.
Part of me hoped I was eating the enemy's heart.
I knew the sudden appearance of this spectacular fungus was a bad, bad sign for our tree; even said as much in my post about the experience. I wrote: Chicken of the Woods, for all its homey name, is a serious tree pathogen, which infects and kills trees with brown rot. Buhhhmer. I hope it's slow-acting. We love this old oak, which shades our mail (good for shipping mealworms in summer) and the bluebird box.
And in a bit of history that now pleases me with its symmetry, the mushroom made me sick as a dog that night and part of the next day.
Looking at it, it doesn't look like something one should probably eat.
All right, it made me sick because I paired it with a nice sauvignon blanc, and I was unaware that that’s a no-no with this particular mushroom. But still. We writers look for foreshadowing wherever we can.
Still, three more springs and summers and winters came and went, and the tree sheltered us, appearing in my photos when I was planning to include it
And even when I wasn’t. (Tree photobomber).
It watched Bill teach Liam to throw (not a fait accompli as yet)
It made its own island of habitat for northern fence lizards and many kinds of birds and animals, who perched in its branches, drilled nest cavities in its limbs, and fed on its caterpillars and acorns. Gray and fox squirrels, redtails and red-shouldered hawks, crows, bluebirds, red-bellied woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, mourning doves; even a scarlet tanager who made it his song perch every summer morning in 2010. Everyone wanted to perch in the oak, for it was the highest point around.
Oak prominent moth larva.
I could not imagine our entry without it. I hoped it would be true, as my DOD used to say, that trees are 50 years growing, 50 years living, and 50 years dying. Then I wouldn't have to say good-bye.