Evoking childhood memories of the fairy tales that my father read to his clan of young children, I'm convinced these are the "toadstools" under which elves and fairies took shelter, on the pages of my childhood books, in rainy weather. Weather much like we're experiencing right now. Beginning in November when the first rains fall, one can see these growing in large numbers under pine trees along the 101 freeway, which is where I took these photos yesterday.
Are they poisonous or are they edible? According to my Googled sources, Amanita muscaria are either quite poisonous, hallucinogenic, or both, while another source says they are edible. Given the amount of information that can be found regarding their poisonous properties, you will never find these in my kitchen.
The top photo is of a young one; barely emerging from the pine duff, it's covered in a powdery yellow sac that separates into the "warts" as the fungus grows and expands.
When I stop to admire the color and shape of maple leaves, which I often do this time of year, it's usually the front that catches my attention. Still, as you can see, the back side is quite wonderful in its own way.
This is why we keep the edges of our property wild. In years past we would see many of this type of salamander through out the seasons. Now we come across them only once in a great while.
My son and I gently placed it in this shallow container for photo purposes only. We quickly put it back where it was found and it went on its gentle, merry way. Contrary to what I've read about these critters on line, I've picked them up numerous times and have never been bitten nor had one even posture that it would like to bite me. Still, given the warnings about their aggressive nature, I would not encourage more human interaction than the occasional photograph.
If you click on the photo you'll get a better look at the geese that were flying over Clam Beach this morning as we were taking a walk along the newly opened "hole in the Hammond" section of the California Coastal Trail, the Hammond Trail. We've been waiting a long time for this section of trail to be completed. It now offers a continuous walking trail along the ocean from Little River near Trinidad, all the way to Arcata, a distance of about 13 miles.
Holy Moly! A praying mantis. In my garden. I've never seen one here. Nor anywhere else in this damp coastal area.
Preferring dry, warm to hot weather, there were hoards of these in my Sacramento Valley garden. They're wonderful to have around because they eat so many bugs that are harmful to plants.
There is a downside to having too many praying mantids: they have voracious appetites and will eat just about anything they can get there "hands" on, including beneficial insects and the occasional small bird. Click on this link for just such a documentation but, I warn you, it's not for the faint of heart.
Me, I'm rejoicing in the fact that one of them has found my garden.
On our walk to the beach the other night we encountered this charming scene of young people learning how to boogie-board in the surf. See if you can find the black dog who was running into the breakers with a wild abandonment and joy that only slightly surpassed that of the little surfers.