It makes me genuinely happy to see this fungus. Seeing Helvella lacunosa gives me the same feeling I get from seeing an interesting friend whom I haven't seen in a very long time. This is appropriate; H. lacunosa is interesting (I mean, just look at it!) and friendly (it's allegedly edible, though I am not going to try it without having a real mushroom person identify it). It is also, inevitably, something I haven't seen in a while. Around here, I know of exactly one place that it grows: right along the bike trail, in a patch a few dozen meters long.
It only sends up mushrooms after very heavy rains, even then it's not too reliable. We've lived in Sacramento for more than a decade, and I've seen it four times. It's too lovely to part with, so here's a couple more pictures:
(We got a couple of stares from passing bicyclists--I was down on my hands and knees by the side of the trail in full cycling duds, which I am sure was confusing to most people. I wonder what percent of the people who passed by had any clue about the lovely things they were missing.)
The mushrooms are already deliquescing, and today's pounding rain won't help them. I wonder, with a little sadness, when I'll see them again.