Posts Tagged ‘wonder’

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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hare eyeCapturing nature up close fascinates me as much today as it did when I first started photographing the outdoors years ago.   The nearness amplifies the wonder I have for my subject, whether it’s a wild animal visiting the yard, a flower blooming in the garden or a fungus feeding off an old tree in the forest.

As a photographer, I’m also fascinated by how these small wonders figure into our human environment…





under the daffodil

… especially that of children.

digging around the daffodilsAs a preschool teacher, I frequently marvel at how a single earthworm, ladybug or salamander can sustain the attention of a group of children. At what point do we lose this curiosity and passion for nature’s small wonders?

Those of us who continue to dig in the dirt or walk among the trees as adults have certainly retained some of this magic.  (Do those adults who don’t get up close and personal with the natural world actually know what they’re missing?)

Opportunities for discovery are all around us.  Even older children will display amazing determination in searching a forest for fungi…


A gorgeous polypore fungus

or animal holes in trees.

what s in that hole

Hello in there! Is anybody home?

If children learn more from example than by the written or spoken word, then a few minutes spent outdoors with a child is key to transferring a passion for nature to future generationsI hope my photographs incite others to go outside and see what they can find out there with their own eyes.

bunny seen from kitchen window

A wild snowshoe hare as seen from the kitchen window

My photographs act as a witness to the wonders around me… both in the natural world and in the young eyes of those who are only just beginning to see it for themselves.

looking forward

This post is in response to Views Infinitum’s Assignment 25: Your Photography Passion  
Scott’s challenge is open to all.  Submission deadline is Wednesday May 22nd 2013 at midnight (your time zone).

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2013.

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If you dug a hole straight through to the opposite side of the planet, where would you come out? Like most North Americans, Nova Scotians would find themselves in the middle of the Indian Ocean. 

Wherever we live on the planet, we tend to think of our immediate environment as stale and mundane compared to what lies beyond the horizon.  The intrigue of the unknown is fascinating to us all.  If we live where it’s cold, we long for tropical weather and dislike having to shovel snow or drive on icy roads.  Desert and tropical inhabitants long for cool fresh air and wonder about the magical qualities of snow.  We humans are a tough lot to please.

The part of the Indian Ocean where Nova Scotians would find themselves is just southwest of the Great Australian Bight, an area inhabited by marine creatures, the majority of which (like the leafy sea dragon at left) are only found in that part of the world.  Now THAT is fascinating.  Though they are pretty cool too, I believe all the plant and animal species found here in Cow Bay are found elsewhere in Canada and the United States.

Photo credit:  Traci Woods Wellington AustraliaAs luck would have it, there actually exists another Cow Bay in Queensland Australia.  Located in the Daintree Rainforest, it boasts an average annual daily temperature of 27 Celsius.  We don’t even enjoy that as an average during our summer months.  But it rains there 120 days of the year.  As evidenced by the phenomenal flooding that’s wreaked havoc in Queensland recently, no place on the planet is likely perfect.  But that won’t stop me from wondering about faraway lands (and waters) and the amazing creatures that inhabit them. 

Photo credits and references:

You can try Zefrank’s Earth Sandwich tool for yourself by clicking on the map images at the top of this post.

A larger version of the photograph of the amazing leafy sea dragon by Laurent Ballesta and other marine wildlife found off Australia’s coast can be found at National Geographic by clicking on the dragon image above.

More images of the flooding in Queensland can be found by clicking on the image of the kangaroo ferryman photographed by Traci Woods.  Thank you to Dawn at Sahlah Photos and Thoughts for inspiring me with her post on Flooding in Queensland.


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Waves can pull you in without getting you wet. One moment you’re looking at them from your vantage point on the shore and the next you’re tangled in their frothy curls.

With mist on your face and the roar of the sea numbing your ear drums, you’re soon set adrift.  As each wave rolls forward, you’re taken under into the mysterious deep.  Long forgotten memories are churned up and float on the surface like sea foam.  

Let your heart look on white sea spray
And be lonely…
~ Carl Sandburg

It’s a wonder how some of Nature’s most sensory experiences can take you so far away from the present moment.  You might recall long forgotten days at the beach, swimming or surfing.  Or your thoughts might drift farther away from the shore, re-examining what was and what might have been at any point along life’s journey. You might even surprise yourself by applying new solutions to old problems.

…  a mind forever voyaging through strange seas of thought… alone.
~ William Wordsworth

You needn’t go far or stay away long.  And herein lies the greatest gift the sea can offer.  Wherever you go when you look at the sea, as with all the best voyages, you’re always more in tune with yourself upon your return.  

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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’re alone, walking along the shoreline and enjoying the sunshine and the warm sand between your toes, when suddenly you see it:  a bottle with a piece of paper in it, lying on the sparkling beach.  You open the cork and read the contents and there it is… a message for the ages… words of wisdom that promise to give your mundane world new meaning and passion…  or perhaps a connection to another kindred soul on the planet.  Ah… if only it would happen like this. 

If such life-changing messages are to be found, they’re not lying there on a sunny shore, waiting to be chanced upon.  There’s a price to be paid for their discovery.  More likely, they’re to be found on a rainy day among plastic bottles and broken lobster traps in a heap of storm debris.

They may be enmeshed in a mass of wet seaweed, recently thrown up on the shore by crashing waves.  It may be winter when the sky is grey and oppressive, and you’d much rather be indoors than outside with the cold wind biting at your face and fingers.

If the message carried within the bottle is truly magnificent, you can bet the glass vessel is  lying close to the edge of the water, destined to be pulled out to sea again if you don’t act quickly enough to pick it up.

Anyone who has ever valued wisdom or soulful connections with others knows that these are treasures you have to find for yourself.  Neither can be passed from one person to the next.  Likewise, the person who finds the bottle on the shore is the one destined to acquire its contents. 

‘I always believed the sea could bring surprises and joy.’  So said Hsiao Wei-chen of Taiwan, who recently found a message in a bottle thrown into the sea 3,000 nautical miles away by container ship seaman Oliver Hickman.  His note wished the finder health and happiness and also said the world is full of fun, love and beauty.  Apparently, Hickman makes it a regular practice to throw bottled messages into the sea.  For more on the story, see Times Live.

The world is indeed full of fun, love and beauty.  It’s also full of wonder.  You just have to get out there and discover it for yourself.

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