Much to do in Hansville this December

Every chanterelle mushroom in your produce aisle was gathered by hand from a forest because no one has found a way to grow them outside their natural habitat. Photo courtesy John Williams.

Every chanterelle mushroom in your produce aisle was gathered by hand from a forest because no one has found a way to grow them outside their natural habitat. Photo courtesy John Williams.

It’s a good time to take a brisk walk in the woods. And if you do, watch your step! There is plenty of life flourishing at your feet and it’s just as fascinating at the flora and fauna above.

“A Walk On The Forest Floor” is this month’s Tuesday Talk at the Greater Hansville Community Center. Your guide will be John Williams, founder and publisher of Salish Magazine, a beautiful and informative online, quarterly publication on the natural world that’s going into its second year (salishmagazine.org).

Look Down And Learn

You might be astounded to know (I certainly was) that without mushrooms, there would be no woods. Our common trees, such as Douglas fir, Western Red Cedar and Maple, depend on certain nearby mushrooms to get the nutrients they need to grow.

The forest floor is home to some wondrous animals, such as the tiny but potentially toxic yellow-spotted millipede, so keep your distance. This abundant critter eats up to fifty percent of the dead leaves and conifer needles littering the ground, making it vitally important to the forest ecosystem.

“There is so much chomping and munching going on in the forest’s old woody debris, if we could hear it, we’d run for our lives!” says Williams. “But if it wasn’t going on, the woods would be a gigantic rubble pile.”

Williams will also talk about lichens, an important food source and nesting material for many birds and animals, the pure white ghost plant, and much more.

Tuesday Talk, 7 p.m., Dec. 3, at the Greater Hansville Community Center (6778 Buck Lake Road.) If possible, please bring a can or two of food or non-perishable food items for ShareNet’s Holiday Food Drive.

Look Up In The Sky

Once our most abundant bird, the passenger pigeon went extinct around 1900, but hunters didn’t realize it was being shot out of the sky forever until it was too late. That’s why monitoring birds, keeping track of where they are and how they’re doing, is so important. On Saturday, Dec. 21, the Audubon Christmas Bird Count attempts to just that.

To be a part of it, contact the field team leaders for Hansville, Al and Andrew Westphal at westphalac@aol.com. Or, on the same day, you can count the birds in your own backyard. For details, including a bird check list, write Janine Schutt at jeschutt@hotmail.com.

Some of the birds I usually see at my feeders have had significant losses in the last fifty years. Red-winged blackbirds, finches, juncos and sparrows are among the hardest hit according to the journal Science. Let’s do what we can, before they vanish, too.

And have a happy new year

Once again, the very popular Bingo party returns to the GHCC on New Year’s Eve. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and games continue until about 9:30 p.m., with cash prizes determined by how many game cards are sold. Children under 18 can play if with an adult. There will be snacks and soft drinks and fun for all. For more info, contact Jo or Fred (the caller) Nelson at 360-638-0000.

— Annette Wright was an editor and writer for women’s magazines in NYC for 25 years. You can contact her at wrightannette511@gmail.com

The ghost plant has no chlorophyll and cannot photosynthesize, so it’s bright white. It thrives in the dark and needs no sunlight. Photo courtesy Karen Hackenberg.

The ghost plant has no chlorophyll and cannot photosynthesize, so it’s bright white. It thrives in the dark and needs no sunlight. Photo courtesy Karen Hackenberg.