Posts Tagged ‘Puffballs’

There is a nip in the air, here on the Cutoff; not yet a first frost, but an unmistakable chill that calls out for hearty soups and warm shawls, a DSCN3329good book and cups of steaming tea. Bittersweet has appeared at floral shops, and rows upon rows of pumpkins line every supermarket entrance as we entertain thoughts of  Jack-o-Lanterns and pumpkin pie.

Daily, now, I take a stroll to the back of our property. I look to the left in dismay at the increasingly greater amount of trees that have been felled, the mountain of sawdust and the towers of logs.  I plot, in my mind, how to make this all work to our advantage, all-the- while walking,  shuffling, in the fallen leaves. It is the soft, slightly muffled sound and the crunch that brings me comfort in the flowing of seasons, one unto another, that I love so much about living here in middle America.

To the right, there are a few puffballs and I make mental notes to check them daily to monitor their growth, remembering the king of puffballs that we gently lifted and took to a nature center last year.

Ground zero brings fairy rings, dancing in the autumnal sunlight, sheltering fairies, I’m certain. Who else so expertly takes the caps off of acorns that are scattered about?

Whatever annuals remain now in pots are ravaged. The deer in the night, bold enough to come straight up to the house for midnight snack. Coleus salad, potato vine pie, and a nip of moon vine for the road; a regular frat party on the campus of the University of the Cutoff.

Much of the weekend was spent cutting back peonies, raking out withered ferns, and pulling the weeds that were hidden under so much growth. It is good to see the soil again, find the gazing ball that was hidden from view, and to watch the birds in a mad frenzy glean the seeds and insects that suddenly appear. It is a good time of year to take stock of what is, and to dream of what can be.


It is also time to clear out our plot in the community garden. I harvested a good hat full of tomatoes last week, and Tom and I gathered more this weekend. Soon, very soon, the plants will be pulled and composted, the fencing will come down, and we will sigh a good sigh at the fruits we reaped from our efforts as well as the sense of community that prevailed.

Now, where is that shawl – oh, there, draped on Aunt Ethel’s old cane rocking chair, just waiting for me and a book.

Pine cone:leaves:stones

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We have donated clothes and furniture, toys and time, books and money; all the things you also have donated. It is what we all do to ease the burdens of others or support a charitable cause. Today, we made a donation unlike any other.

It all started last Saturday when we visited Lake Katherine. We were in the nature center. Tom was coming up the stairs as I was going down. There, on the landing, half up and half down, was this wonderful poster identifying the many mushrooms and fungi that sprout  in our area. There, dead center, with a fairy ring dancing round and around, was an illustration of a puffball. We were chatting about it when a voice behind us queried “Did you say you have puffballs in your yard?”. An employee of the center, she was fascinated with our puffy story, saying that if we would like to dig it up she would love to display one.

Most of our gang of puffballs are gone now; deflated, eaten by the woodchuck or dessert for the deer, chunks of puff scattered about.

One, only one, remained. The one measured by the size of my sandal still sat near the arbor, still growing, although with less zeal.

Tom carefully dug the puffball out,

put it into a lined box,

and nestled it securely into the trunk of the car.

I drove away with my precious produce, avoiding bumps in the road and sharp turns; not an easy ride for puffballs, like all things that play with elves and gnomes, emanated the most obnoxious of odors that managed to seep through the car’s ventilation system.

I soon waddled up the walkway from my now noxious car to the nature center, avoiding a gaggle of preschoolers excited over the geese pecking about. I was greeted with as much enthusiasm as Santa Claus by the very same Saturday lady, who gurgled with glee , “Oh, my, you really did bring one!”. 

The soon-to-be famous Cutoff Puff now sits on the stairway display case, half up and half down, measuring just over 18 inches long. It looks like a dinosaur egg sitting in its nest. I wonder how long it will sit there before some curious lad or lass pokes it.

I also wonder if can we claim it as a charitable donation on our income tax?


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All puffed up

No, this is not a photo from Curiosity’s mission on Mars. It is the surface of a puffball, one of many scattered about our little kingdom here on the Cutoff.

They arrived a little early this year, but amaze me just the same. These puffballs appear out of nowhere and conjure up images of once upon a time as they grow and grow and grow, doubling, even tripling their size in one day’s time. In fact, they even morph into triplets.

These pictures are of the same puffball, over the period of two days. The sandal is mine; a size 6 (the only small thing about me) . . .

. . . and this is Tom’s boot, twice the size of mine, measuring up yet another puffed up ‘shroom.

As these strange orbs of wonder congregate here and there and resemble soccer balls left outdoors after the Olympics, fairy rings appear, joining hands and circling, doing who-knows-what when I’m not looking. This one seems to have had a little too much fun and lost her head.

So, dear reader, I walk about quietly and carefully right now, for I know not what will suddenly appear as summer turns softly into the fall.

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They pop up around here every Fall, mostly in the underbrush. The first time we saw one, we thought one of the boys next door had left a soccer ball out. The soccer ball never moved, just got bigger. Then, we discovered more puffballs nearby.

For some odd reason, I like to find them. They are yet another sign of the changing season here on the Cutoff and they are, as well, a wonderment to me. First, they are the size of a tennis ball, then, next time I look, a softball, and on and on until a volleyball has grown into the leaves and brush and hidden spots all over.

Gotta run now. I think I see a fairy ring underneath the oak tree.

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