September 14, 2009
A Summer Affair
As we go keeling headlong into our second New England autumn I've realized that summer here is much like a long-distance love affair. There's the spring joy of feeling the sun's warmth again after so long, accompanied by that muddy awkwardness of reunion; the summer's sunshiney bliss, and then there's fall: that long, last, brilliant and bittersweet night together before the goodbye of winter. The trees are blushing.
Unlike other long-distance love affairs, though, there's no communication between rendezvous. Summer is off in some unreachable place where there are no phone lines and no post. It's a sad, sad business.
I endeavor to remain perky, however. I'm determined not to let my dread of winter throw its shadow over the beauty of autumn. Here's one of my happy thoughts:
I love the fungi around here. I took the above photo in my neighbor's yard. After googling around, I think I figured out that this thing (looks like a Halloween mouth to me) is called Sulfur Shelf, also known as Chicken of the Woods because it's supposed to edible-- although, you're not going to find me hunkering down to munch on it anytime soon. Also, it might be damaging to the oak tree. Here's what Wiki says:
"The mushroom can be prepared in most ways that one can prepare chicken meat. It can also be used as a substitute for chicken in a vegetarian diet. Additionally, it can be frozen for long periods of time and retain its edibility. In certain parts of Germany and North America, it is even considered a delicacy.
However, a small percentage of people can have an allergic reaction when ingesting it. To quote Michael Beug " causes mild reactions in some, for example, swollen lips" or in rare cases " nausea, vomiting, dizziness and disorientation." This is believed to be due to a number of factors that range from very bad allergies to the mushroom's protein, to toxins absorbed by the mushroom from the wood it grows on (for example, Eucalyptus or Cedar), to simply eating specimens that have decayed past their prime. As such, many field guides request that those who eat Laetiporus exercise caution by only eating fresh, young brackets and begin with small quantities to see how well it sits in their stomach."
Apparently some Sulfur Shelf can grow to be 100 pounds. That's one big chicken!