Saturday, September 11, 2021

Tiny Libraries and Fairy Rings

    I discovered a new trail last week and today I decided to try it again. It's only 1/2 mile long, right along Rattlesnake Creek and in the middle of a neighborhood though well hidden and private. It's called the Tom Green Trail. I so appreciate the work that has gone into the many trails around Missoula. There are trails for just about any skill level and mine has become much simplified in my old age and with my sore knees! At the beginning of the trail I discovered this tiny library stocked with several books, some dog treats, 2 jars of sidewalk chalk to go with the blackboard on the side of the library, some hand sanitizer, and a notebook and pen for recording anything the visitor might like to write. 

The Tom Green Trail is an easy walk with lots of shade, a wide trail for hikers and bicyclers.

I love the many beautiful trees I see on most of my walks, mostly ponderosas and cottonwoods that have attained a good height. I saw a deer this time, and, in spite of warnings about bears in the area, I did not encounter any. I never remember to carry my bear spray anyway!

I love surprises in nature and here I saw something I've never seen before! Crossing my path and meandering off several hundred feet into the brush was this line of mushrooms, each one 4-6 inches across. I followed it quite a ways until the brush got in my way and wondered how much farther it went. When I posted my photo on Facebook I got a suggestion that it was a "fairy ring", something I've never encountered, though I've heard of it. This didn't appear to be a ring, unless the ring was really, really large. Is there such a thing as a fairy line?

From Wikipedia:

fairy ring, also known as fairy circleelf circleelf ring or pixie ring, is a naturally occurring ring or arc of mushrooms. They are found mainly in forested areas, but also appear in grasslands or rangelands. Fairy rings are detectable by sporocarps (fungal spore pods) in rings or arcs, as well as by a necrotic zone (dead grass), or a ring of dark green grass. Fungus mycelium is present in the ring or arc underneath. The rings may grow to over 10 metres (33 ft) in diameter, and they become stable over time as the fungus grows and seeks food underground.

Fairy rings are the subject of much folklore and myth worldwide—particularly in Western Europe. They are often seen as hazardous or dangerous places, and linked with witches or the Devil in folklore. Conversely, they can sometimes be linked with good fortune.

He wha tills the fairies' green

Nae luck again shall hae :

And he wha spills the fairies' ring

Betide him want and wae.

For weirdless days and weary nights

Are his till his deein' day.

But he wha gaes by the fairy ring,

Nae dule nor pine shall see,

And he wha cleans the fairy ring

An easy death shall dee.

Apparently fairy rings can be made up of a variety of different types of mushrooms. I couldn't find a name for these particular ones.

 So, after my exciting discovery, here I am on my way back out, stopping at the tiny library again. This time I selected a small book called "Me" by Katharine Hepburn, and I signed the notebook with thanks for the library and my first name and my age, just for fun. Here's to the joy of finding new trails and new learning experiences!