Monday, August 19, 2013

Phenology: Slime Molds On Deck

At Grandma Bonnie Peters' house in Kingsport, Tennessee, last week I saw a row of the same slimy-looking fungi Zirconium photographed so vividly...

Like the fungi in the picture, GBP's slime mold was sprouting amidst flat green Cladosporium mold that had bloomed all over wood that was supposedly covered in mold-resistant paint. After eight super-soaker summers in a row I wouldn't be surprised to find mold sprouting inside someone's ever more beloved bleach jug...

There are prettier results of this weather. Besides luxuriant crops of the roadside wildflowers I was able to photograph over the weekend (cheese! cheese!), gardeners are seeing superabundant blooms on jewelweed, sunflowers, and myrtle. That invasive but pretty japonica honeysuckle, which didn't get enough sun to bloom very well in spring, is trying to re-bloom along Route 23.

Unfortunately for those who like food, food plants have tended to be on the losing side of this weather. The computer says there's been a lot of interest recently in that pawpaw bread recipe I called "Baked Nebraska." I'll be greatly surprised if I find even one pawpaw this year; pawpaw trees' short stature makes them the first casualties of fire blight, and the pawpaw trees near the Cat Sanctuary have been devastated.

Ecology 101, as taught when I was in primary school: Water vapor hanging in the air produces rain. Motor exhaust fumes, even when filtered, pollute the air. Trees absorb many of the pollutants from motor exhaust fumes. Trees also release massive amounts of water vapor into the air. Air pollutants not absorbed by trees keep water vapor hanging in the air longer. Therefore, when people want to use some kind of motor vehicle every time they mow the front yard or drive up to the second house up the road, and plant lots and lots of trees to absorb the fumes, the climate becomes uncomfortably wet. Are you local lurkers noticing this effect yet?