During these weeks one of the great wonders of the natural world is taking place – the changing of seasons. Outside the temperature is slowly dropping while the wind is picking up leaving trees naked in the cold. We are slowly dusting off our warm winter jackets and carefully inspecting whether gloves, scarfs and hats have another winter in them before the holes starts showing up. Outside the sky is filled with spiraling leaves, red, yellow, orange, purple, brown, like a final beautiful display of nature before slowly descending unto a soggy ground. Indoor the candles are being lid to combat the increasing darkness caused by ever shortening days and we welcome natures whish of a gentle sleep after a long warm summer before another burst of life can take place.
But far down where the rays of the sun must fight for a place, somehow life begins to grow when all other plants and animals seem to make a wise retreat. Thick and thin, high and short, smooth, stripy and dotted. The colours fill the palette from red to blue, orange to purple, and everything in between. They remind us that life is not over just yet, well almost on the contrary as they proudly stretch up from the green mossy ground.
Most mushrooms are the heroes of autumn. Like all other living things, they are a part of an extraordinary ecological system. Many are here to clean up plant and animal material after a nutrient rich summer like small, wonky garbage men of the forest. While not being able to produce energy of their own, mushrooms live with or by other organisms but the heroes are not short of paying back the favour with yet new and important nutrients.
Most mushrooms, I said, are heroes, but what are heroes without the villains? And like in all good stories the villain is as much needed as the hero which is why the parasitic mushrooms are also lurking among the tall, dark trees. Slowly finding their way to living plants and trees, these mushrooms have no second thoughts before infesting their victims. Feasting on the nutrients the parasites are sure to give the unlucky host a slow death in the deep silence of the forest.
The autumn is thus the perfect time of the year to go out and explore some real battles of nature, where good and evil lives site by site and where prolonged survival is carefully calculated before the cold gusts of wind brings along the biting frost and nature finally turns the switch.