Month 9: Of hurricanes & cabins

Preethi Govindarajan
Sep 30 · 7 min read

Early in September, after wiring the cabin with a 120-volt setup, Steven’s parents left Nova Scotia and headed to the prairies.

September then brought with it:

a) The cold.

b) The eccentric Norwegian neighbour across the cove arrived and with him came all the lumber for a cabin and the intention on our parts to help him with this endeavour

c) A survey: It was decided that we would get the land that the cabin stood on surveyed and the logistics for this were being tackled

d) Mushrooms: It was mushroom season again and along with the berry picking ventures, I began my mushroom foraging

d) The hurricane named Dorian was making it’s way to the eastern shore after decimating the Bahamas.

Hurricane Tidings

We heard news of the hurricane a week in advance. But day after day, its seriousness did not wane so we decided to batten down the hatches and make our way to the neighbours’. We disassembled the kitchen, shower, toolshed and everything that might be lifted by 100+ km/hr winds and packed it all away in the cabin. We decided to weather this event at a friend’s house (which was closed in, insulated, had a generator and a loo indoors). Early on Saturday, we made our way to their place as the winds started picking up. By noon, the electricity was down (and it would stay down across most of the province for almost five days) and by 3 PM the tidal surges submerged our friends’ entire dock and had stranded another neighbour’s sail boat on the next island. As we sat waiting for the hurricane to get much worse (the eye of storm was at about 11 PM and we sustained about 140 km/hr winds), we watched the local news showing cranes in Halifax crumbling down like Jenga blocks as we played board games and ate storm crisps. We managed to sleep through the worst of it. The next morning was eerily sunny and quiet as we made our way back to asses the damage. A few trees had fallen over that we cleaned up and life slowly went back to normal.

Mycological Foray:

Soon after the hurricanes, as we consolidated efforts to go build our neighbour’s cabin, I also managed to go for a few foraging expeditions along with my berry-picking adventures. I found a few patches of Chanterelles that immediately had a role to play in our gastronomic adventures.

On one such expeditions I found a ~200 year old hand-made well on the property, dug by the people who used to live here during that era.

Well, well, well…

Below are some mushrooms that I found…

Description of the photos are given from top left to bottom right. Also, I am not an expert in mushrooms and if anyone spots any errors in these, please feel free to me and I will correct them!)

Chanterelles

Amanita bisporigera (North American destroying angel): It is a deadly poisonous species of fungus found in the Maritimes. It is mycorhizal with hardwoods. It is identified by its stark white colour, it has a skirt-like ring near the top and a bulbous base (which cannot be seen in this photo).

Hypomyces hyalinus: It is a parasitic fungus that exclusively attacks the genus Amanita. Not much is known about this mushroom (including its life cycle)!

Amanita flavorubiscence (Yellow American Blusher): It is distinguished by it’s yellow cap and yellow warts. It also grows alongside with hardwoods. The red blusher (Amanita rubescence) is edible, I do not know if this one is and even it was, so many species in the genus Amanita are poisonous, it is better to stay away from them!

Clavulina cristata (White Coral Fungus):It is an edible fungus, identified by its white cristate branch tips making it look like a coral. Presumed to be mycorhizal with conifers.

Russula emetica (The sickener): It is a woodland fungus. It makes people very sick when eaten raw or inadequately cooked (I did not attempt to eat this). It has a red cap with gills and a white stalk.

Craterellus lutescens (Yellowfoot): It is a type of Chanterelle with a brown waxy cap with false gills, it is mainly found in wetlands and bogs. It is edible.

Amanita fulva (The Tawny Grisette): This type is less frequent in North America. It has a tawny orange/brown cap with white gills. It is supposed to be edible when cooked. Again because of the dangers of the Amanita genus, better to leave them alone and admire them from where you are crouched!

Monotropa uniflora (The Indian Pipe/Corpse Plant): This is placed even though it is a plant because it a mycoheterotroph. It does not have any chlorophyll but gets its energy from fungi that are mycorrhizal with conifers. This plant is psychoactive has been used to inhibit anxiety in the early 19th century. It’s fungal hosts are usually from Russula family.

Cantharellus cibarius (The golden chanterelle): They have yellowish caps with false gills. They have a fruity apricot like odour and grow into a funnel like structure. As you can see, I definitely did partake in the ingestion of these fellas.

Norwegian Cabin Building

Soon after the hurricane, we started going over to the other side of the cove every day to build the cabin. We managed to put down and insulate the floor and put a few walls up before we needed to retire ourselves and our tools from this activity in an attempt to close down our own cabin for the year.

Garden Tear Down

With three days left, I tore down the last of the garden and harvested all the vegetables (the vegetables were plentiful and had to be donated to our neighbours) and covered the garden up with rock weed, to be tilled next year.

Last harvest

Cabin Tear Down

Before tearing the cabin down, we managed to mount some trail cameras on trees facing the cabin and the recently-constructed shed.

On the last day before leaving the cabin, we shut down the kitchen, shower, toolshed, loo, well, and finally the solar. Early the next day we made our way to Halifax with our neighbour (the fellow we were helping earlier with construction) driving us.

Onward & Outward

We stayed in Halifax for a day and managed to attend a Vipassana group meditation that evening and left for Calgary the next day.

The few days we spent in Calgary was spent with a friend and his daughter. It also involved copious amounts of coffee and too much fried food. We also attended another Vipassana group sit in Calgary which was pretty useful. It’s quite nice to meet other Vipassana meditators in other cities as we travel!

The rest of the month I spent in Saskatchewan, pulling out and harvesting the garden, completing my statistical inference course, exercising, and writing month notes. And as September ended we were left with an unseasonal winter storm covering the entire place in snow.


Books read recently

Parable of the talents (Earthseed vol 2) — Octavia E Butler

How to Change Your Mind: What the new science of psychedelics teaches us about consciousness, dying, addiction, depression & transcendence — Micheal Pollan

Outline — Rachel Cusk

How to grow a human — Philip Ball

Siggu

Writing about a deep dive into Vipassana meditation

Preethi Govindarajan

Written by

Puttering with data science. I mostly write about the berries I have picked.

Siggu

Siggu

Writing about a deep dive into Vipassana meditation

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