The woods are a wild tangle until we can manage a little cleanup from years of winter ice and spring storm damage. While clearing a few old paths recently, I found surprising bits of beauty nestled in odd places. From atop a ridge that drops into a canyon below, I spied white fungi splashed across a fallen tree. Still rooted to the ground, the tree lives life on the woodland floor, creating a natural bridge for critters to crawl or perch on.
Honeysuckle scent fills the air. A thick carpet of blossom and vine encroaches all living and dead matter. Best to pick up your feet, while hiking, lest you find yourself pitched forward in the tangle of vine! Of course sometimes, the angle from the woodland floor exposes forms of life that one wouldn’t necessarily notice from a higher point.
I found this dainty Turkey Tail fungi while lying on my belly photographing greenery. I would never have noticed it standing above. It’s delicate, feathery design is misleading. It’s leathery to the touch, and attached quite firmly, rooted deeply in the core of the wood. It flourishes on dead, hardwood trees, helping to break down the lifeless timber and return it to the earth.
We tend to assume that time is the facilitator in breaking down matter. Actually, millions of microbes and various environmental exposures work to decompose that which no longer lives. Bacteria and tiny organisms exist and make a life on that which we consider discards.
I found this small treasure nestled in fallen tree debris. The skull of some woodland creature. I often discover turtle shells, squirrel bones, or fragments of a bird, long ago cleaned off by predators or scavengers and bleached white in the sun.
I love these early spring days in the quiet of the woods. I often work alone, so when I spy something of beauty, or a treasure contained in a snarl of thick vine, lying simply atop a rock, or partially buried in the thick matting of autumn leaves, I simply stand for a moment, thanking the universe for sharing with me. Beauty is everywhere… and indeed, it is in the eye of the beholder!
“Beauty in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them.” David Hume
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