After work yesterday I headed down into Shakerag Hollow to see what was stirring at the end of the warm afternoon. It was a pleasure to walk with just a shirt on my back — discarding the wintry weight and confining clutter of jackets and gloves and fleeces and hats. Ah!
Scarlet cup fungi (Sarcoscypha sp.) were fruiting in one or two places on the side of the trail. They feed on decaying plant matter and grow their striking red “cups” throughout the year, but especially in cooler months. Spores are produced from the inner surface of the cup. These blow away (or are carried on mouse feet) to colonize more dead vegetation, of which there is no shortage on the forest floor. The scarlet cup is a favorite of mine –saturated with color at a time of year when the rest of the forest is mostly muted.
Bloodroot plants were poking up their flowers. Most were still tightly closed, but one or two had cracked open a little. The deeply incised leaves are held clasped against the stem, only relaxing into an open posture when the flower is mature or dead.
I was not the only mammal out and about in the balmy woods. Junebug the Hound found this skunk, but fortunately she paid attention to my bark: leave it! The skunk had its tail arched, ready to express its opinion.