Saturday, January 24, 2015

long dry spell

On January 17, 2014, the California Governor's office released this statement
With California facing water shortfalls in the driest year in recorded state history, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today proclaimed a State of Emergency and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for these drought conditions.
Drought conditions indeed! 

I posted only two items on this blog during the thirteen-month period from December 2013 to January 7, 2015: 

  • fring 2013 (December 3, 2013) celebrated the after-Thanksgiving rain of that year; and
  • when media collide (February 9, 2014) contained absolutely no references to gardening or water. 

Oddly, during POSToccupations' long dry spell, I remembered the 'fring'* piece as being my most recent one, possibly because I visualized the accompanying photo of tiny jade-tree blossoms.

In 2014, heavy rains came right after Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, filling and refilling our rain barrels. No longer feeling like T.S. Eliot's "old man in a dry month, waiting for rain," and thinking "thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season,"** I ventured out to find not only the violets one would expect, but also morel mushrooms! Here was something I felt motivated to tell the world about, and so I wrote my first blog post of 2015 at last.

Weather pundits warn that California's drought is not over, in spite of the heavy rains. Water-saving measures abound: days and hours (minutes!) of watering time are severely limited, cities pay $2.00 per square foot and more for residential lawn removal, and courses in xeriscaping appear in college extension catalogs. People joke about the 'water police.'

Meanwhile, big drifts of California poppy seedlings have appeared in our cactus and succulent bed and, for the first time, in our parking strip. I have committed myself to keeping them alive until they can bloom and set seed for 2016. 'Gray water' from the washing machine will make this happen, and possibly extend the morel season through St. Valentine's Day.

Is there a metaphorical equivalent of 'gray water' that a person can call upon to keep blogs flourishing? Time will tell. In Tree at my Window, Robert Frost spoke of a parallel between "inner" and "outer" weather. I have thought of a parody -- Drought at my Doorstop -- but will endeavor keep the dryness at bay.

- - - - - -
* fring is the word I coined in 2010 to indicate the spring-like season (the first spring) that starts with Southern California's normal fall rains.

** Gerontion (1920), first and last lines.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

a mushroom chronicle, part 4

So far, this chronicle has been devoted to the crocheted mushrooms I've made as yarn bombs. Clumps of three are still flourishing in our garden and our neighbor's garden, while single specimens may be found in pots and baskets from New York to Beverly Hills.

Today's mushroom chronicle takes us in a new direction -- to the live morel mushrooms which mysteriously appeared in our small herb and veggie garden after the post-Thanksgiving rain. Informed of their wholesomeness by diligent Internet research, we have consumed two or three small batches (sauteed in butter with garlic) and are eager for more. 

These specimens, photographed on January 4, look like they'll be ready soon:

I posted a modest announcement of the find on the California Message Board at on December 8: "Since the recent rains, we’re seeing morels in our Culver City veggie strip.Miffed at the total lack of responses to my post, I sent a more explicit email (with photos) to and hope to see evidence of it on their map, which shows only one Southern California sighting in 2014 (January 7 in a Laguna Woods planter, along with wood chips and roses).

Egotism was not the only reason for my surprise at the absence of accolades from the on-line morel community. Morels are such a rare and valuable commodity that I expected to be inundated with congratulations. "How valuable are they?" you may ask, especially if you don't live in one of the states where morels are seriously hunted every spring. In May (only May, it seems) morels are available fresh on line for $36.00 a pound at Wiebke Fur and Trading Company of La Crosse, WI. Dried, they are available year-round for $37.99 an ounce at D'Artagnan, a purveyor of truffles, caviar, and other costly foodstuffs, imported and domestic.

Though Steve and I have lived in states where morels grow wild, neither of us had tasted them until they appeared in our garden. We water them with our reclaimed rainwater and hope to keep them thriving for a long time.

Now I'm thinking about how to crochet some morels.
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POSToccupations by Frances Talbott-White is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License