There is fungus among us.

Photo of Indian pipe plant.

Indian pipe shows its single flower.

It’s been rainy for the last few days here at the October Country Inn.  An uncommon dip in the jet-stream opened up a path for moisture laden Gulf of Mexico air to sweep north in a procession of wet thunderstorms.  The rain is welcomed.  It’s what gives the Green Mountains their name.  The rain-soaked earth also produces the explosive growth of  myriad varieties of mushrooms, fungus, and unusual plants. I came across many on this morning’s walk in the woods.  One such plant, called ghost plant or Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora), only appears when the ground gets moist after a dry period.  Unlke most plants, Indian pipe is white because it does not contain chlorophyll.  It is parasitic.  Instead of generating its own energy, it gets the energy it needs to grow from trees through a complex relationship with certain host fungi.  In western herbal medicine Indian pipe is used to calm the nerves.

Photo of yellow patch mushroom.

Yellow patch mushroom.

Another eye-catching mushroom that I encountered along the path is called yellow patch (Amanita flavoconia).  The genus Amanita contains about 600 species including some ot the most toxic, as well as some well-regarded edible species.  Amanita alone is responsible for about 95% of mushroom poisioning fatalities.  One species, death cap, as the name implies, accounts for about 50%.  For this reason, although I like the subtle taste and texture of mushrooms, I leave it to the experts to pick them out for me.  I often find various species of Amanita along the path, they’re often colorful and unusual looking and fun to take pictures of, but I leave it at that.

Photo of chicken of the woods fungus cluster.

Chicken of the woods cluster on a maple tree.

On the other hand, there’s chicken of the woods (Laetiporus sulphureus).  This is an edidle variety of bracket fungus that is relatively easy to identify due to its bright orange color.  Although wild mushroom connoisseurs claim they have the texture and taste of chicken, and often use them as a substitute for it, I still didn’t harvest any from this healthy batch.  I’m not all that fond of chicken.  Sadly, this live maple acting as host for this fungus is doomed.  It will not survive.  Personally, I’d rather have the tree.

 

Bookstock: Woodstock celebrates the arts on the Green.

Woodstock's Book FairChuck and Edie, hosts at the October Country Inn, with an eye toward keeping our patrons informed about local events of interest, thought that you would like to know that we noticed that they’re putting up the tents on the Town Green for Bookstock, Woodstock’s annual bookfair, and literary festival. Bookstock is presented in support of cultural richness and diversity, and celebrates the arts. New England is home to many talented writers representing diverse genres, from national Poet Laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners to emerging young writers and those who have found their compelling voice at midlife. Bookstock encourages appreciation for good writing and other artistic endeavors by introducing residents and visitors of all ages to writers, musicians and artists.

Donald Hall reads poetry

Local poet Donald Hall reads some of his work.

This year, Bookstock is a three day event held on July 27, 28 & 29. Events are all free, and most events take place in historic buildings around the Woodstock Green, a short walk from the center of Woodstock village.  In addition, ArtisTree Gallery in nearby South Pomfret, hosts the opening reception, as well as the UnBound exhibition of book art. Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park hosts a writing workshop and presentation. Bentley’s Restaurant holds a brunch reading Sunday morning.

Bookstock workshopBookstock hosts two book sales at once. Norman Williams Public Library (NWPL) offers a selection of vintage books of interest to both serious and casual collectors. In addition, NWPL and the North Universalist Chapel Society collaborate to put together an extraordinary used book fair. Thousands of quality secondhand books are available at yard sale prices under a tent on the Green, carefully arranged by genre and topic. Check out the schedule at www.bookstockvt.org.

 

20 Mile Stream Road loop – a local bike ride favorite.

Town of Ludlow

Town of Ludlow

The 20 Mile Stream Road loop bike ride is of modest length that starts with a long gentle downhill section, adds a quiet, slow (mostly uphill) ride along an idyllic country backroad, and then finishes with a breezy, brake lever clutching downhill. The ride starts out though a lake front residential section along a scenic state highway, then goes through the towns of Ludlow, and Cavendish before you turn off the highway, your thoughts and concerns dim as you become one with Vermont’s bucolic splendor. If you want to extend the ride, start and end this ride at the October Country Inn for a total of 44.3 miles.

20 Mile Stream Road

20 Mile Stream Road

For the 20 mile option, park at the Tyson Church parking lot off Route 100 across from the Echo Lake Inn. Ride south on Route 100. The road has narrow shoulders, and winds through a residential area that front lakes (from north to south) Echo, Rescue and Pauline that are fed and drained by the upper reaches of the Black River. Turn left where Route 100 south intersects with Route 103 south (3.4 miles) and continue into the town of Ludlow where Route 100 and Route 103 split (5.4 miles). There are several opportunities for restrooms, food, and drink in Ludlow. Continue through Ludlow, about 2 miles, and beyond on Route 103 south.  Turn left on Route 131 east (8.5 miles). Singleton’s General Store, in Proctorsville, is on the right (8.9 miles). A little bit further (9.0 miles) you will come to Depot St. Two blocks down, on the left, is the Opera House Café & Bakery. Riding on, following Route 131 east, without warning, and for no apparent reason, the town of Proctorsville suddenly becomes the town of Cavendish. Be sure to keep an eye out on your left for Twenty Mile Stream Road (9.3 miles) It’s the longest street sign in Vermont.

20 Mile Stream Loop MapTurn left on 20 Mile Stream Rd (9.3 miles), it’a paved road with no marked shoulders, but little traffic. It begins as a bit of a climb and then goes up and down, mostly up winding through a haphazard mix of residences before it opens up through a meadow filled valley. It just feels good to ride through it. The pavement ends (13 miles), turns to hard-pack dirt and steadily increases in pitch until it intersects with the Tyson/Reading Road (16.3 miles).Turn left on Tyson/Reading Road, and slip into the big ring. With the exception of one small up and down section by Colby Pond, the rest of the ride is a peddle free downhill ride on a winding paved road (no marked shoulders but little traffic) through shaded forest and open meadow until you reach the end of this loop a the junction with Route 100 (19.3 miles).