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Posts Tagged ‘Trees’

sweating shelf fungus

Come into the backwoods and I’ll show you something absolutely magical.  Fungi abound in this neck of the woods, but this bracket fungus is doing something I’ve not seen others do.  It’s crying.

sweat on fungus
These tears may look like raindrops, but they cover only the fungus, not the surrounding area, except for where they’ve dripped below and discolored the moss.  Present on one of the oldest, tallest spruce trees in the yard,  one can only wonder what could have caused tears to appear on this Red-belted polypore.

Old spruce tree and Red-belted polypore

Old spruce tree and Red-belted polypore

Red-belted polypores  are thought to hold anti-bacterial, anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory properties by native and oriental cultures.  If this is so, can you imagine what pharmacological mysteries their exudate droplets hold?  Since this old spruce tree reigns in a stand of smaller firs and magical  Rowan and Elderberry trees, some whimsical wonder must surely be at the bottom of this.

fairy tree entrance

Could this bracket fungus serve as an awning to a fairy door entrance into another realm?  An awning, perhaps, which sheds tears of joy when visitors arrive on the doorstep and tears of sadness when they depart.  One can only wonder.

fungal awning above fairy tree door

For more information on bracket fungi and their exudate droplets, see Red-Belted Bracket Fungi

This post is written in response to Karma’s ‘In Want of Whimsy’ Challenge.  Deadline for submissions is June 22nd.

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2014

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porcupine eating maple

Over the past year, chewed tree branches too high for deer to reach indicated a porcupine was likely dining regularly in the backyard.  This week I finally spotted the suspect in action, munching on maple.  Since porcupines are usually active at night, I was surprised to see him late on a bright, sunny morning.

porcupine in sunlightHis black claws and the long hairs of his fur shone in the sunlight.  As soon as he heard me, he froze.  His underbelly appeared soft and vulnerable.  Porcupines are protected by law in some North American locations as they are easy, nutritious prey for humans lost in the woods who may be armed with nothing more than a stick.

When I decided to move closer, his brunch interrupted, he slowly came down from his perch on the tree stump next to the branches, and made his way into the bush.  His quill-covered back was huge but seemed so well camouflaged in its woodland setting.  You wouldn’t want to step on that by mistake.  Another reason to walk, not run, in the woods.

porcupine heading into bush

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2014

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snowshoe hare eating spruce needles

‘Eat your greens’ we’re told from a young age.  Young snowshoe hares need not be reminded.  Nothing green seems to get overlooked by their taste buds.

hare nibbling on spruce branches

Once new growth emerges on the lower branches of fir and spruce trees in the yard, the tender needles replace dandelions on the hares’ seasonal menu.  Hungry bunnies reach the higher branches by standing on their hind legs, carefully balancing themselves in order to grab a bite.  Who knew snowshoe hares could eat standing up?!

Snowshoe hares are amazing runners whose reproduction rates are legend.  Could the greens in their diet be a key to their boundless energy?

Even keen salad eaters wince at the idea of eating evergreen needles but we don’t need to eat an entire bough to benefit from such nutritious fare.

balsam fir new growth

A simple tea made by steeping a sprig of new growth needles in hot water will provide a good dose of vitamin C.  Balsam fir needles are used for colds, coughs and asthma according to my Peterson Field Guide of Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs.  As wild as it sounds, it’s probably tamer on the body than most drug store decongestants.

fresh green growth

The Green shopping aisle

Spruce and fir needles can also be dried and crumbled for use as a wild accent in a variety of kitchen fare.  Think of adding a bit to rice, venison or even Christmas cookies.   At least the shopping aisle won’t be crowded and the Grocer’s selection will be a feast for the eyes as well.  Recent rains have encouraged so much evergreen growth that Nature’s bounty will be great enough for both humans and hares to have plenty to share and enjoy.

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2013

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Cone Talk

The cones have tales to tell this fine spring day.  Do you have a minute to hear what they have to say?

old black spruce cones

Let the old gray cones speak first.  They’ve likely seen better days but are still holding on tight to the even older black spruce that bore them years ago.  Neither the young nor the old should underestimate the value of tenacity.  Hang in there baby!

spruce cone leftovers in woodpile

These spruce cone leftovers on the woodpile reveal a spot where at least one red squirrel likes to dine regularly.  Hopefully the neighborhood cats aren’t paying attention.

closed spruce cone in bog

A closed cone in a boggy area doesn’t want to expose its seeds to the wetness if there’s still a chance it can disperse them farther in drier weather.  It’s only natural for all of us, even small pine cones, to aspire to reach out to the world beyond our little neck of the woods.

open cone indicating dry forest

A spruce cone on the forest floor is already open, even though it rained heavily here a couple of days ago.  A sign of a dry summer ahead, it’s also showing an increased risk for wildfire.

speckled alder cones and seeds

Speckled alder cones have only a few seeds left in them, but are proud to say they helped feed a good many hungry chickadees this past winter.   When you hear the chickadees sing, you can thank the alders.

red spruce cones

Red spruce cones announce to the world that they’re open for business.  Pollination business that is.  Their bright red bract scales are ready to receive the male gametophytes that will produce a new crop of seeds.  They’re so spectacularly beautiful, a close-up is warranted…

red bract scales on red spruce

Green cones appear for the first time atop a tall balsam fir I transplanted as a seedling years ago while holding a baby on my hip.  It’s always a thrill when your babies start having babies of their own, whether these babies are humans or trees 😉

green balsam fir cones

Get outside and hear what nature has to say to you today.

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2013

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The trees of the Acadian forest have something to say.   Ever since the Europeans arrived here, they’ve been patient, but they’ve put up with our foolishness long enough.  It’s time for us to listen up.  This past week, forester and law student Jamie Simpson took it upon himself to help them get the word out.

I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.
~ Dr Seuss, The Lorax

Last Friday Jamie put up a billboard between the two bridges in Halifax along much travelled Barrington Street to increase awareness of our government’s clearcutting policy.  As you can see, in this larger version of the billboard photo,  a picture truly is worth a thousand words.

Whole tree harvest cut near Upper Musquodoboit Nova Scotia ~ Photo Jamie Simpson

Despite its promises, Nova Scotia’s NDP government has done nothing to stop whole harvesting of our Acadian forests.  It’s not just wrong.  In Jamie’s words:  ‘It’s shameful.’  By allowing a loose definition of a clearcut in the fine print, despite its new policy, the NDP government continues to allow harvesters to transform more of our mixed growth forests (with the potential for partial harvesting) into mud pits.

Northern Pulp biomass harvest ~ Photo Jamie Simpson

Northern Pulp, the company that ravaged the tract of land shown above, was sold to Paper Excellence Canada, which in turn is owned by a conglomerate of Asian and European owners.  Like the Lorax in Dr Seuss’ book of the same name, perhaps we need to get angry while also retaining a seed of hope. We need to tell our government representatives that they have to be more creative in finding a solution that works both for the forests and the forest workers.  Now, before our landscape is ravaged any further.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.
~ Dr Seuss, The Lorax

For more information concerning the decline of Nova Scotia’s forests since the arrival of Europeans, see my earlier post on  The Fall of the Tall Trees.

To help Jamie get the word out, visit his website for a list of government contacts at Clearcut Nova Scotia:  What to do.  MLA Becky Kent is the representative for Cole Harbour/Eastern Passage.  Her contact information is listed here.

Text copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2012.
All photos shown courtesy of Jamie Simpson.

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When you walk in the woods, do you see the forest or the trees?  Do your eyes come to rest on the bark of the closest  trunk or is your vision focused on the woods behind it?

Similarly, when you’re walking on the beach, are your eyes scanning the shore for a special shell,  a heart shaped stone or a bottle with a message in it, or are you gazing at the horizon line?

It’s easier to focus on the trees nearby if the path ahead is tangled with vegetation.  The possibility of ticks in the grass or mosquitoes lurking in the deeper woods may prompt you to take a closer look at the soft new growth on the branches  within your grasp.

If the path ahead appears clear and bright, you may be more inclined to venture into the forest.

At home or at work, I often find myself caught up in the details in my surroundings.  My eyes dart quickly back and forth looking to re-arrange or make right whatever seems out of place.  However, when daily life sometimes becomes cluttered, as the beach is with seaweed after a storm…

I lift up my eyes to focus on what’s ahead.  (One of these days I’m sure I’m going to see a mermaid sitting on top of that big stone).

Our ability to shift our focus is a gift that allows us to be happy in any circumstance.  All that’s required from us is a willingness to refocus our attention, perhaps for just a moment, before getting back to the task at hand.

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2012

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