I have previously mentioned a fairly new attraction in our local town, the Union Tea Cafe. The cafe seems to be going from strength to strength and has become the lunchtime meeting place for le tout Olean. The place to see and be seen. They even sell T-shirts now saying, "Pinky Up!" (For my British friends, your pinkie is your little finger. They think cocking your little finger is the posh way to drink tea. It would be cruel to disabuse them.) They still have a portrait of the Queen
and other British-themed memorabilia, like a genuine Essex policeman's helmet. I'm surprised it hasn't been stolen yet. (For my American friends, a common fate of an Essex policeman's helmet).
Visiting for the first time in a while, I noticed a new addition
Instinctively my heart leapt and then sank again, remembering that all doesn't augur well for the coming season. I also learned from a young family member about to start college that all the girls in her school had crushes on European footballers, Ronaldo in particular. That's interesting. Maybe real football will finally take off in America. I should also report that hubby gallantly and quite on his own initiative flew the England flag along with the Stars and Stripes on our flagpole while the World Cup was on. It's still there. We haven't got the heart to take it down.
Herewith some mushrooms that sprang up in the jungle, aka our garden. I'm a dab hand at mushrooming in France and Britain, so long as the mushrooms I pick are only edible boletus, aka penny buns or ceps, which are wonderful fried with onions and scrambled eggs. I don't touch anything else. And I don't touch anything in America.
The other day, though, the Pfeiffer Nature Center nearby offered a "Mushroom Mania" experience. Here's the expert, Garrett Taylor, with regulation basket and in the backround,a quaint old wooden house with a hatstand with a genuine pith helmet on it and fabulous views where he gave us a preliminary briefing.
I'm not going to tell you what all these mushrooms are - I didn't manage to take notes but this was one that eats insects - a carnivorous mushroom.
And these are Indian pipes, which are really a kind of flower.
I just enjoyed the way they look. It's been a fabulous late summer for mushrooms with all the rain we've had. The forest literally smelt of mushrooms, a comforting woody smell.
They complement their surroundings beautifully.
This below was a coral mushroom - waxy when you rub it with your fingers.
And these looked like icing flowers on a cake.
The purple jobs were everywhere in all shapes and sizes.
I liked this one, popping out a tree. It looked as though it belonged as part of the decor of a house from Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles - one of my secret pleasures.
This was almost like a stone sculpture.
All the yellow blobs were chanterelles - definitely edible. A veritable goldmine. They like to hang out near oak trees.
Here are the contents of Garrett's basket.
And one he says is good to eat - though please don't take my word for it.
Here's some more of the haul spread on the ground.
As for these little ones on the tree bark. They allegedly do funny things to you. If you pick them up, it's a felony. If you leave them on the ground it's not. Be warned.
We didn't take any home but compensated with a sack of chanterelles which we were still enjoying several days later.
But I was right to be wary. Ceps in America aren't exactly the same as the European ones and many have the reputation of being bitter and not good to eat. In France they're mostly all good, unless they're bright orange or red. I think I'll stick to just looking.
Having neglected the jungle for so long, I was surprised to see how well the flowers were holding up.(See below) Sadly I can't say the same for some of the trees. Last winter's heavy snowfall had some momentous results. Here's one birch tree.
And here's another...
Meanwhile the apple tree down the hill looked as though a giant had sat on it.
The trunk was sliced neatly in half.
But it's still full of little apples. It may survive yet. Nature around here is amazingly resilient.
Dateline: Cattaraugus County, western New York state
Mild excitement the other day as they put up a new telegraph pole at the end of our drive. In America they call it a "utility pole" but there's still something reassuringly old-fashioned about the concept, especially as the poles on our lane are made of wood. Here you can just about make out a very brave man, very high up.
Cradled by modern technology that contrasts sharply with what he's actually putting in place.
You learn something new every day. A number of my western New York neighbours are avid deer hunters. Deer season is a couple of months away yet and the deer know it. This morning I saw a couple of them sauntering across the lane heading towards someone's vegetable garden, smacking their lips. Then they saw me and bounced off into the woods, tails waving. They'll be back.
Meanwhile the hunters are on the look out for some fresh trick to get an advantage over the opposition. Like this one spotted at a friend's house.
It's a sort of belt with a set of antlers at each end. The idea is to put the belt around your waist and clack the antlers together. It sounds like two stags fighting. "I thought that would make them run away", I said. "Oh no", said my friend, "It attracts them". A rival stag will come trotting up to see who's causing trouble on his patch. And then, well you can guess the rest. It sounds a bit like wishful thinking to me but I'm not a hunter. Bambi doesn't seem too perturbed.
Speaking of deer, the other evening we drove past the local University campus, St Bonaventure. There, in the pleasant park in front were hordes of deer. Some grazing, some snoozing on the grass. It was a deer cocktail party. Or deer freshers' week perhaps.
The next morning I walked up the lane and saw no deer at all. Then I remembered. They were all having a lie-in, or still rolling home, slightly the worse for wear.