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Mushroom season

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For some reason, our culture declares the autumn equinox to be the start of autumn.

"Autumn" (or "fall" if you like) has no strict defining characteristics; it's a social construct, being the period between summer and winter. Of course, that's a definition in itself, but the precise boundaries are somewhat arbitrary. Why, then, would be choose the equinox as the starting point?

The equinox itself is precisely defined: It's the point at which sunset and sunrise are twelve hours apart, so day and night are equal in length. For even more precision, the astronomical definition is the point at which the Sun crosses the equator's path. But still, that's no reason to choose it as the start of autumn.

I'm greatly affected by daylight, so I consider daylength to be the most important feature for defining seasons. I take the day of maximum daylight - the summer solstice - to be the middle of summer, and the day of least daylight - the winter solstice - to be the middle of winter. Following that logic, the midpoint between the two should be the middle of autumn, not the start.

This also makes sense if we think of autumn not just as an in-between season, but as the harvest season. When we had a closer connection with food production, harvest time was culturally highly significant, and we still have the remnants of that in harvest festivals. The harvest is well under way by now, and will continue for a while yet. The equinox certainly doesn't mark the beginning of the harvest.

I realise that choosing my own definition for a social construct is perverse, but faced with a choice between reason and social conformity, I'm always going to choose reason.

One type of food that is abundant at this time of year is mushrooms. I've been gathering them for a while now, but now if I fancy mushrooms for dinner I can pop out and be almost certain of finding something. I got a good haul the other day, then yesterday I found a recently-killed rabbit by the road, so I had mushroom and rabbit stew for dinner last night. I find preparing a rabbit pretty grim (this was only the second time I'd done it), but well worth it. It's free meat, and the animal died accidentally after living wild. It's also delicious!

I have some photos of mushrooms for you, but not of the rabbit. Click through for the gallery:

Horse mushroom - top of cap

There were some very fine horse mushrooms, amongst other things

Comments (6)

  1. Paul Campbell:
    Sep 29, 2021 at 02:32 PM

    For me, Autumn is an amazing time of year. You get the fantastic colours in nature with the leaves and hedgerows turning golden, and the fields changing from their summer harvest back to the earthy brows. At the bottom of my garden i have allotments so wildlife live in the bank that seperates the end of my garden and the allotments. For the past 5 years we have had, a family of hedgehogs, that took up residence in the bank. During the summer they were out with their babies, so i fed then every night, now they are preparing for winter, as you can see they have built a nest, which reminded me that the days are drawing in, i too need to make sure i have supplies of food, just incase this winter we have bad snow etc. I remember from a previous post you said about havind SAD. My mum has it too, i had to buy her some of those lights that simulate daylight, otherwise she can get pretty low, so i understand where you are coming from with that. I love the photo of the mushroom with the water droplets on the grass. I have never eaten rabbit so i cant comment on if i like it or not, but if it came out ok, then its all good and didnt go to waste.


    1. rseabrook:
      Sep 29, 2021 at 04:20 PM

      Hendgehogs - how wonderful!

      I also love autumn, in spite of getting SAD. It's weird, and in the past has made it difficult to identify the SAD, but there we are. I also have one of those daylight lamps, but often forget to use it. When the sun's out it's better to go outside. It is now, so I'll do just that!


      1. rseabrook:
        Oct 03, 2021 at 10:38 AM

        Hedgehogs, even. Now I'm imagining them building little stone monuments...


        1. Paul Campbell:
          Oct 03, 2021 at 03:23 PM

          If they did that would be amazing to see, sadly, their efforts are limited to making, what looks like a random collection of sticks and leaves, underneath part of my wood store.


  2. Elaine cosier:
    Oct 02, 2021 at 04:14 PM

    For me ever since I was a kid Autumn has been something I feel. It doesn’t matter what the date on the calendar. Autumn starts on that morning when I wake up and feel that there is magic in the air. A magic which wasn’t there when I went to sleep the night before. Autumn is waking up to a feeling of excited anticipation, a sudden conviction that magic does actually exist and,while I slept, my world has, inexplicably, been dusted with it.


    1. rseabrook:
      Oct 03, 2021 at 10:34 AM

      Fascinating! I get that in spring - there's a day when suddenly the world is full of excitement. I think the air smells different on that day. I get it to a lesser extent in autumn, which - with my tendency to rationalise - I'd put down to the combined cultural effects of a new academic year throughout childhood and halloween. It's very interesting to hear that you feel it, too, and more strongly.


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