Fungal wonder

Summerfields Wood, our local dog-walking stomping ground, is a perennial site for the stunning Hairy curtain crust fungus (Stereum hirsutum)[1], 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

[1] 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!


Wonder of the Day

After all the summer throngs and thrills of Hawks and Tigers (see, for example, Mystic Moths), the first venture of the light trap this autumn, on 10th October, yielded just… one moth!

Quality, however, more than made up for quantity. The insect in question was a Merveille du Jour, a stunning moth, clothed handsomely in its dapper green and black ‘jacket’.

Merveille du Jour, 10th October 2020

I love the fitting name as well as the moth itself. Merveille du Jour is French for ‘Wonder of the Day’.

For me, it was one of the lepidopteral wonders of my year.

Merveille du Jour, 10th October 2020

Wonder is central to my faith, to my being.

Like a lot of 21st Century Christians, my faith has undergone a necessary transition of de- / re-construction. It’s not that I no longer believe in God, or Jesus – I just believe in a wider, wilder, more expansive way than would fit into the theological constraints of churches I’ve belonged to over the years.

This second Merveille du Jour graced the light trap on 29th October 2020

It sounds pretentious or pompous to call the process a ‘second awakening’, but it seems a good description.

My love of nature, a tendency to marvel at the Universe, is more important to my sense of God than ever before.

Merveille du Jour, 10th October 2020

When all the difficult questions and debatable beliefs are stripped away, a childlike wonder remains at the heart of my faith: an anchor for my soul reflecting the beauty that surrounds me.

Or as Rumi said, in a way that applies at least as much to religion as to anything:

“Sell your cleverness, and buy bewilderment.”

I may not see a Merveille du Jour or “Wonder of the Day” every day, but every day is a day of wonder.

Watchet Harbour, 26th October 2020

(All photos taken by me, but not copyright – i.e. feel free to use them, with my blessing!)