the tiny garden

A taste of spring hit the backyard as temperatures soared into the 60s the other day, and major amounts of snow melted. When I walked into the wetland beyond the backyard I was greeted with signs of life awakening after the long winter — like this tiny garden on a rotting log.

A tiny one-inch across mushroom nestled in among several different species of moss. Spore capsules of moss tower above the green vegetation — the better to spread their tiny spores to a new site on the log.
A second, even tinier mushroom is growing beside the bigger one. If I knew something about moss, I could tell you how many different species there are here in this 4 square inches of log.
A veritable forest of mossy leaves support the towering trunks of the sporophyte part of the plant with its knobby capsules waving in the breeze.
Meanwhile, a pair of Mallard ducks, keeping a close eye on me as I walk by, is taking advantage of early snow melt to rest in a shallow pond.

a nifty smart phone feature

My Samsung phone has a magnifier, which is great for older folks who forget their reading glasses when they go out to a dimly lit restaurant.  But I discovered another use for the magnifier the other day when I was trying to photograph moss with a telephoto — a bad idea because of the lack of depth of field.

moss on rotted log

The telephoto shot had about 1/4 of the field of view in focus.  Even the phone camera couldn’t capture the sea of moss on the rotten log adequately.  This was about as close as I could get without blurring out part of the shot.

I turned on the magnifier function, held the phone next to the moss as steadily as possible, pressed “capture”, and then saved the image.  Wow — a super-sharp close-up with more magnification than the phone camera alone could produce.

moss sporophyte capsules

The beak-like things on long stalks above the moss “leaves” are the sporophyte capsules, which will release spores to further colonize the rotted log.  This is unedited — just as it came out of the phone camera.

Rainforest in Minnesota?

A three day drenching after a long two-month rain drought turned our dehydrated deciduous forest into a dripping rainforest.  Walking through Reservoir Woods the other day on a cool, but humid morning, I felt like I was in Tacoma, Washington instead of Minnesota.  I hope the photos below can convey some of that scene.

It's amazing how fast the ferns and the moss perk right up after a hard rain.

It’s amazing how fast the ferns and the moss perk right up after a hard rain.

Not really a rainforest, but looks like it.  Moss was growing on the north sides of the trees (opposite where I was standing).

Not really a rainforest, but looks like it. Moss was growing on the north sides of the trees (opposite where I was standing).

xxx

No fall color in this part of the woods — yet.

Fungi are notable for their rapid growth.  I have no idea what this one was, but clumps of it had invaded several parts of the trunk of this still-living tree.

Fungi are notable for their rapid growth. I have no idea what this one was, but clumps of it had invaded several parts of the trunk of this still-living tree.

Some of the mushrooms had grown quite large.  This was one of three giants in an area where there weren't even any fallen logs.

Some of the mushrooms had grown quite large.  This was one of three giants in an area where there weren’t even any fallen logs.

Would Minnesota develop into temperate rainforest characteristic of the far northwestern coastal areas of North America (click here for a map of the global distribution of temperate rainforest)?

Real temperate rainforest in Victoria, BC, Canada.

Real temperate rainforest in Victoria, BC, Canada.

Most likely not.  Average rainfall in MN is about 32 inches; average rainfall of a temperate rainforest is about 55 inches.  Climate change models predict that the MN climate will become more like Kansas than Washington state — warmer and drier, not cooler and wetter.

But it was nice walking around, pretending for a day.

A perfect day

is skiing (cross-country) without a coat in MN in February, when the sun is out and is high enough in the sky to actually be warm.

Over the bridge, and through the woods, to see what I could see.

reservoir bridge

dee-dee-dee, these little birds are already starting to sing their "phee-bee" song

dee-dee-dee, these little birds are already starting to sing their “phee-bee” song

Moss and fungi on a log.  As soon as snow melts off the surface, the moss greens up.

Moss and fungi on a log. As soon as snow melts off the surface, the moss greens up.

Turkey tail fungi sort of resemble the real thing.

Turkey tail fungi sort of resemble the real thing.

Chattering at me from his tree top  perch.

Chattering at me from his tree top perch.

I made a few stops for photos on my 5 mile route, but even so, I can walk/run this trail in the summer much faster than I can ski it.   But today, I was in no hurry to end this peaceful, perfect day.