This morning

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Strange to look out upon the rising sun, expecting to see the great red ball cresting the flat horizon of the sea, but instead the grey mountains of mist set the backdrop to this dawn.

Several hundred metres above the inversion point (the inversion layer is a distinct level around a valley where the cold air falls and sits each night, forming the early morning mists of spring and autumn, and indicating the line above which to plant frost susceptible fruit trees) these misty mornings below allow for broad horizons and the liberation of thought above.

Autumn comes in slowly, heralding its approach in such displays. And also in the great wealth of this season. Yesterday I descended the ridge to the West (the inland side) to the great terraces that over look the valleys that feed the Girona plain, grazed by a small herd of cattle, 7 donkeys and a couple of horses. Bordering these terraces is a treasure of blackberries I don’t think I have ever had the good fortune to encounter before. And today I will pass over the northern ridge to the small, steep terracing where some 10000 wild apple trees grow and collect what has fallen this early season to make apple and blackberry jam.

Suddenly the mist below lifts and forms a cool screen to the morning sun. Blotting out the hills and the sea, turning the blue vault silvery white.

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And the mushrooms! The recent rains have encouraged the recalcitrant soil into giving forth its great bounty. This first flush is of Russula spp, colourful and acrid, but with luck and some trial and error I’ve enjoyed both R. virescens and R. aurora.

With the Russula come the first boletes, Boletus calopus, B. luridus, B. rhodopurpureus, B. radicans, sadly not all edible.

Then there are the fascinating and weird amanitas, A. pantherina, the first A. muscaria and the deadly A. phalloides. I’m searching for the edible A. Caesurea, easily recognisible with its orange ball emerging from its white body! But so far without success.

While searching the forest floor to and from my blackberrying I also helped myself to the first, still white, hazelnuts. Walnuts will follow and then chestnuts. And I’m also hopeful of the acorns from the trees beneath which I’ve built my new home. But more of that in the months to come.

Perhaps the simplest to identify and one of the best tasting is the oyster mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus. Unfortunately, I have yet to find more than one spot where it grows here, alongside the track, which suggests to me that my preference for this mushroom is shared by the wild boar! And it is the boar (or less likely the deer) who seem determined to knock over every mushroom they pass, whether they eat them or not.

Stray threads of mist now weave between the trees and it begins to feel cold now the sun has been extinguished.

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But it is a thin screen and in moments the sun breaks through again, reminding me to get on my way, collect the apples and prepare the jam well before the heat of the day.

The Hermitage, Chapel Peak.

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About Jamie Nicol

Living in the forested hills of Catalonia, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Zen teacher, recovering philosopher, small-scale natural farmer. Writing just what comes.
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