October is my birthday month.

The beauty of the changing colors of deciduous trees, mild weather and delicious scents of the autumn season have always lured me into the woods in October.   Up here in the Gillespie Creek neighborhood the forest is often silent midday..  Early morning and late afternoon the songs of Sparrow, Vireo, Chickadee. Wren, Nuthatch and Finch are syncopated by the bold calls of Cardinal, Crow, Blue Jay.  Mornings, Swans trumpet, Sandhill Cranes Coo, Canadian Geese Honk.  This week faint calls of migrating ducks mix into the joyful symphony .

A deep breath brings the perfume of falling leaves and pine needles.  Each now seeded grass clump emits an essence.  All olfactory stimulation is sweetened by the lingering Wild Aster blossoms on a sunny day.  Mist in the morning deepens the aroma..

A walk in the wild is calming to me.  I always leave the woods refreshed and smiling.

Have I seen all the birds?  No. Is there evidence of the processes that bring about all of Nature’s visible response? No

Walking along, every creature knows I’m intruding into their territory.  Crunching leaves along my footpath have signaled my presence.  The gentle tap of my walking stick alert Garter Snakes of an invader approaching.

Birds often silence.  Many other hidden processes engage preparations for possible danger approaching .

This week wild mushrooms are featured in my newsletter. Researching mushrooms, I find a compelling story.

Two sources: a YouTube Power Point prepared by Brewster Johnson and an essay by Meg Schader of “Sciencing.com” give a bit of insight into one of these mysteries.

The Wild Mushroom; Tree Connection

In an article published 9/30/21 Meg relates recent revelations.   Mushrooms are the communicators of the forest.  Brewster Johnson presents the astonishing fact that the surface mushroom reveals only 5% of the entire plant.  The mushroom itself is simply the reproductive part of the mushroom organism.  According to Meg scientists believe that trees exchange messages through 95% of mushroom systems (fungi) living below the surface by entwining their networks with tree roots in a mutualistic relationship.  The mushroom fungi form an intricate web of communication amongst the tree roots, helping to distribute messages and nutrients between a wide network of interconnected trees.

What do trees talk about with the help of the mushroom network?  They send stress signals, alert neighbors to impending dangers like bugs, toxins and deforestation.  The trees then release hormones and chemicals to defend themselves from  predators.


Look closely at my photo of the Horse Mushroom.  Do you see the slug with its antenna stretched out on the mushroom’s underside spore surface?  I find that some mushrooms are carnivorous.  Nematodes are their prey!  The mushroom can paralyze the nematode within a few minutes of its contact.  Interestingly the nematodes, the same pests that often infest our garden Hosta are the most abundant animal in the soil.  Mushroom help to control them.

Treasure the often hidden garden mushroom.  Not only are Horse, Puffball and Morels delicious to eat.  Each lives its hidden life purposely, an instrument for sustaining the balance of life on our changing planet.