Beauty in the Cold Continued
In the last blog, we discovered the Wolly Bear Month and the Barn Owl as the winged creatures featured in my latest collection. Now its time to meet the gray fox and the oyster mushroom!
The only time I've personally seen a gray fox was once when it ran across the road on my way home one day. It was small, fast, and beautiful!
The gray fox is smaller than its cousin, the red fox. Their legs and length are shorter. The gray fox has a beautiful peppered coat that covers the top of its back, along the sides, and top of its head/mussel. It has a tan/reddish color that edges its sides, face, and neck. Black strips accents are visible on their face and nose, while the tail has a black tip. The gray fox's color palette helps them hide in their favorites habitats.
Gray Foxes are omnivores loving meat, vegetables, insects, and fruit. So, of course, they would flourish in woodlands, forests, and anywhere smaller mammals would also live. The Gray Fox has also been called the "tree fox" or "cat fox" because of its ability to climb trees. I wonder if the fox knows how tasty the oyster mushroom is?
Looking for a tasty as well as a beautiful mushroom during the winter months, then the blue oyster is your best bet! The blue oyster is a visually pleasing mushroom all around. I've always thought that the towering clusters topped with blue that is almost metallic looking looks like a tree species from an alien planet. Its overlapping layers create thick vertical clusters that almost look like a tree canopy. The oyster has gills on its stalk, which creates vertical lines that lead your eye to their smooth, rich blue colored caps.
Wild oyster mushrooms, Pleurotus ostreatus, can be found in North America and are more common in the Eastern States. Oysters grow on logs and stumps of broadleaf trees and can grow throughout the year. All oyster mushrooms are high in protein, making them a great culinary treat! The warm blue oyster's flavor is sweet and meaty. It also has medicinal uses known for its cholesterol-lowering and antiviral properties. You can find oyster mushrooms at local farmer's markets or Wholefood stores if you can't find anyone local. They are also a popular choice for at-home grow kits! If you are interested in learning more about growing mushrooms, I highly suggest checking out mushroommountain.com. I've had the pleasure of sitting in on some of Tradd Cotter's, the founder of M.M., talks at the Mother Earth Fairs. He knows his fungi and has convinced me that mushrooms can save the world!
Well, I hope you've enjoyed meeting the animals in my winter collection. Prints, cards, and sketchbooks will be available in the shop!
Mushrooms of the Southeast, by Todd F. Elliott & Steven L. Stephenson