Autumn in the woods

Last week Erik and I went across the bay to Marin County to do some exploring. We ate some wonderful fried brussels sprouts with aïoli (not being a potato person, these actually beat french fries for me) and had a ramble through the woods at Point Reyes National Seashore.

Treetops and birdI have been painting so much lately, it’s started to affect the way I see — which is a delightful thing. I gazed at the trees and saw fascinating arrangements of branch and leaf and negative space. I looked at the forest floor and reveled in the color combination of deep umber earth and wood, sienna redwood leaves (needles?), bright yellow and orange leaves, and frosty lichens — with creamier golden and white hues of acorn and mushroom.

Forest floorIn fall the poison oak, which during the rest of the year hides greenly in plain sight, flames with red like the danger it is. On these trails it covered the ground and climbed the trees, swathing their trunks with fiery color. We kept our distance, but I gasped and gaped from the safety of the path.

Poison oak climbing treesPoison oak on a tree trunkIn the meadows we found fat quails and tall grasses, but underneath the tree canopy the earth regaled us every few steps with fungi — and their eager consumers, the banana slugs.

Small kingdomRussula? mushroomOrange mushroomsWe must have seen one or two dozen of the slugs on our hourlong hike. They startled me every time I came across one unexpectedly (which was often, given their camouflage), but they are so interesting to look at… and so huge; we saw one the length of my hand. Sorry if they creep you out — better skim past the next few pics. I find them grossly enthralling myself: I love to look at (and photograph) them, but I’m really glad they live in the woods and not in our yards!

SlugfaceSpotted banana slugCurled slugHere’s the clincher of grossness if the slugs disgust you: I took a video of two of them eating a mushroom.

And here, have something different to clean your eyes after those slugs!

Tree with green hangingsI had such fun examining all the colors and textures of the forest, I came home inspired to do more with the photos. More on that tomorrow… but for now, the rest of the Point Reyes set is here on flickr.