Summerfields Wood, our local dog-walking stomping ground, is a perennial site for the stunning Hairy curtain crust fungus (Stereum hirsutum), whose bright orange margins illuminate its dank, dark surroundings like the first glimmers of dawn at the end of a long night.
So it’s not an unfamiliar sight.
However, while walking in the woods this weekend, this log, so breathtakingly bedecked with these marvellous mushrooms, caught my attention anew in wide-eyed wonder.
So much so, I decided the fungus-spangled log needed a photoshoot for a page of its own here…
“[Wonder] is one of the purest forms of joy that I can imagine…
Wonder is one of the most powerful forces with which we are born…
My sense of wonder is first and foremost something in and of itself, wonder for the sake of wonder. A small voyage of discovery. Though it can also be the seed that germinates, to bring forth new possibilities.”
Explorer, Erling Kagge, from his wonderful, short book, Silence
 I’m not an expert at identifying fungi. I think this is Stereum hirsutum. But it could also be Golden curtain crust (Stereum ostrea). Both species also seem to be known as False turkey-tail, which makes it very confusing. If you’re clearer than I am about which one this is, please let me know in the comments. Thanks!
This week I read about a fungus that can survive solely on plastic.
[I don’t have any photos of plastic-eating mushrooms but, to celebrate the role of fungi in our world, here are some pics of other fabulous fungi I’ve taken this Autumn in our local area.]
Pestalotiopsis microspora eats polyurethane and turns it into organic matter! And it doesn’t even need oxygen, making it ideal for cleaning up landfills.
And there are other plastic-digesting mushroom species, such as the oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus). Research has shown that once the plastic is consumed by this fungus, there is none left inside it, so the mushrooms remain edible!
We are still discovering so much about fungi, including their incredible symbiotic relationship with trees and their complex communication systems. They are truly worth celebrating.
Despite our exploitation of Nature and ravaging of the planet, Nature still has a way of offering us solutions to the problems we’ve created. She is so forgiving. A gift that keeps on giving.
I wonder if mankind will continue to turn to Nature for answers to our global eco-crisis.
Like many other people of faith(s), I share the optimism of Julian of Norwich (“despite all evidence to the contrary”, as Philip Carr-Gomm put it), hoping against hope, that “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
I do believe, despite our perverse tendency to try and detach ourselves from Nature, that ultimately mankind cannot lose its inherent oneness with her.
We may forget that we are part of Nature…
…but Nature does not forget.
I believe that she – and Yahweh, the Divine Presence behind her – will continue to call to us with wonderful solutions like these plastic-eating fungi, to reconnect us, and to heal us and our planet.
(Photos all mine, but no copyright. Feel free to use / share, with my blessing!)
 Also this week I listened to a podcast interview with Philip Carr-Gomm, one of the leaders and former Chosen Chief of The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, who believes that at the heart of the universe is “a divine force of love, which is both highly personal and also impersonal”. That the universe is a benign and nurturing place. That “despite all evidence to the contrary, I have such a strong faith in the ultimate goodness of God / Goddess / Spirit / the Source of all being…that [quoting Julian of Norwich] all manner of things shall be well and all shall be well in the end.”
Wow! I’m increasingly and pleasantly shocked at how much commonality often exists between my (admittedly, fairly broad) Christian faith and the spiritualities of others.