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Posts Tagged ‘mystery’

Over the weekend, I discovered a number of previously unseen life forms with my grandson.  The biodiversity present in our boggy woods never fails to impress, but this is especially so when you have a child along to point out the weird and wonderful.  

After weeks of heavy precipitation, the woods were full of unusual fungi. 

Once considered plants, it’s now believed that fungi share more characteristics with life forms in the animal kingdom.  While the cell walls of plants consist of cellulose, theirs contain chitin, which is also found in the shells of crustaceans, insects and some molluscs.  Unlike plants, which can make their own food through the process of photosynthesis, fungi survive by consuming dead matter.

Despite having a good field guide, I still find it difficult to identify the types of fungi I find in the woods.  There seems to be such a variation in color and shape as they age, which complicates the identification process even more.

However, from my grandson’s perspective,  it wasn’t necessary to know the names of these fungi in order to marvel at their remarkable appearance.  Perhaps Nature is most awesome to those who carry child-like wonder in their pockets instead of field guides.

To attain knowledge, add things every day.  To attain wisdom, remove things every day.

~ Lao Tsu

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You must not know too much, or be too precise or scientific about birds and trees and flowers and water-craft; a certain free margin, and even vagueness – perhaps ignorance, credulity – helps your enjoyment of these things…
~Walt Whitman

Sometimes, it’s good to know less than more.  Acquiring more knowledge of a subject often removes a soft veil of mystery that leaves only the bare facts visible.  The magic disappears. 

The numerous types of lichens, mosses and fungi make the woods seem more magical for many of us.  Is this because we typically know less about them than other living things in the forest?  If I encounter new, unknown varieties on a walk in the woods, why does this make the excursion more enchanting?  Perhaps, sometimes, it’s best to not know the names of things so that mystery and wonder can survive.

Though correct identification is helpful if they’re going to be eaten, nature’s myriad types of fungi need not be named in order to be enjoyed for the beauty of their subtle colours and forms.  Their ability to uplift our spirits are nonetheless.  And it may just be easier to imagine them eaten by elves or sat upon by delicate faeries if their exact variety is unknown to us.

I would rather live in a world where my life is surrounded by mystery than live in a world so small that my mind could comprehend it.
~  Harry Emerson Fosdick

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red sky before dawn

Each time dawn appears, the mystery is there in its entirety.
~ Rene Daumal

red dawn

Red dawns are thought to bring bad weather, but the warm temperatures experienced later yesterday were a welcome relief for November’s blues.

november sunrise

As the sky was overcast, there was no visible ‘sun’ rise. It simply seemed like the sky was blushing. The red blush lasted only a few minutes and then… was gone.

after dawn

 

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sparkling water

The water doesn’t require the warmth of summer days to sparkle.  All it needs is a bit of light.  It adjusts the facets of its waves to receive it and then sends it back. 

sunrise from bridge

The effect is pure mystery.  One of the most marvelous sights in nature to behold, it’s a wonder how light bounces on the ripples and waves.  Walking along the salt marsh trail, sparkling waters can often be seen at sunrise.  Sometimes they’re accompanied by the rush of tidal waters while at other times they’re silent, accompanied only by the sound of your feet walking on the boards of the bridge.

The shine on the surface of the water speaks nothing of the deep and dark that lie beneath.  By itself, the sparkle lends an air of lightness and fleeting happiness.  In contrast, dark waters say nothing.  They are wordless and endless, full of the inexpressible unknown.  Both the sparkling surface and the dark, pondering deep are intertwined into one body, and that is perhaps the greatest mystery of all.

sparkling deep water

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misty shore

Mist and fog are part of life in Nova Scotia.  They soften the corners and edges of things or reduce visibility to the extent that things disappear altogether.  What lingers beyond the limits of our vision is distorted and enhanced by our imagination.

Let us go in, the fog is rising.

~ Emily Dickinson

Mist is usually lower to the ground while fog is higher and denser.  Along the shore, their effects are compounded with sea spray.  Even when it’s not raining, you can get soaked just by walking through these ground-level clouds.

shore birds

It’s not unusual to see clouds run down the road.  Mist moves.  Like everything else in nature, it’s dynamic and full of surprises.  Often, blue skies and sunshine lie in wait behind the fog.  Sometimes it reveals that which is otherwise overlooked.  Here the mist betrays the outlines of spider webs on spruce trees.

misty webs

Like the darkness, fog provides a cover for predators.  A Bald Eagle looks over the salt marsh from the top of a tree.  Is its hunting ability impaired or enhanced by the fog?  Perhaps a little of both.

bald eagle

Mist is also a veil that separates the worlds of man and faerie.  It is mystery and magic itself.  Its greatest trick is in making us believe that everything is in a fog except us.  Because we can see clearly a few feet ahead of us, we surmise that we are alone in our clarity.  Yet we are just as much wrapped in fog and mist as everyone and everything else in our surroundings.

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