We haven't done a formal nature study in awhile, mostly because we've already studied anything of interest in our yard, and I haven't been taking nature walks lately in order find new things. (Bad, I know.)Today however, I was walking around in this little scrubby bit of woods that is next to our property, but is separated by a privacy fence, so we never go there. It is also infested with thorns and poison ivy. But today I was looking for some interesting sticks to make into some branch blocks for the kids, when I saw this bright orange fungus. I knew I had to collect some for a nature study; it was just too awesome a find to pass up. So I got my pocket knife (and camera) and cut off a few pieces from the dead branch it was growing on.
After a little internet searching, I found out that this is a Cinnabar-red Polypore. It is native to this area, and fruits during Dec. -Jan. It is a non-parasitic shelf fungus, that lives on decayed wood. Since it is so beautiful, I thought that this would be a great thing for Anna to draw in her nature journal. She started dragging her feet about that, as lately she has been very critical of her drawings, and will hardly draw anything unless she is sure she can make it look "perfect" and not "like a kid drew it". I keep telling her that she is still a kid, and that she draws very well for her age, and I keep hoping that she will soon come out of this self critical faze. In order to encourage her, I got out my nature journal (sadly neglected, I'm afraid) to draw along side her. She soon perked up and started enjoying it. We decided to use oil pastels since the color was really the spectacular thing about this fungus. In form it's just a blob. Here is Anna's nature journal entry.