2/26/2014

Snow In The Rainforest

No snow at sea level, but accumulations at elevation in the Sooke Hills.





A bit on the ground at Sooke Potholes Park, but not enough for
skiing or snowshoeing.




Heavier snow in the trees on the hilltops.



Conditions are good for revealing individual big trees on the hillside that normally
 blend into the forest and are harder to spot.




The falls on Sooke River are highlighted by a dusting of snow.

2/05/2014

Studying Orange Jelly Fungus



I photographed this bizarre looking life form recently and wanted to identify what it is, and what planet it comes from. Some light studying leads me to believe it is Orange Jelly Fungus (Dacrymyces palmatus).

This edible but tasteless orangey-yellow glistening growth was living on a fallen Douglas-fir, doing its job to slowly break it down. Decomposers perform an important function as nature's recyclers.

Decomposers, or saprotrophs, recycle dead plants and animals into chemical nutrients like carbon and nitrogen that are released back into the soil, air and water.

I can see someone perhaps giving this amazing growth a little poke with a finger or stick, but it boggles the mind to think of eating it. 

Unless you have bought your mushrooms in the grocery store you should proceed with extreme caution.

Whether they look like day-glo boogers or not.

2/03/2014

Lessons In The DeMamiel Creek Forest

The DeMamiel Creek forest is mostly second growth with old growth trees in places.
It is in the Coastal Douglas fir ecozone, and is comprised mostly of private land.


The primal forest is the best school one is likely to find. Too bad so many people are skipping class, including those who are supposed to be responsible for protecting this precious resource.


The students that do take the time to learn the lessons of the forest discover everything they need to know about successful living on this planet. Trees provide places we can experience the richness of life. Here we can learn the lessons of gentle living and cooperation.


Notable teachers across the ages have acted as our guides, sharing with us their insights gained from developing a relationship with the trees.



A fungal community growing on a moss community growing in a tree community. Things proceed peacefully - there are no wars... until we show up with our scorched earth assaults and clear everything in sight.


Pete Seeger loved being on the stage, but found respite in the forest. He said, "Every time I'm in the woods, I feel like I'm in church."


But churches pale in comparison to sunlight filtering through a grove of centuries old Western red cedar or Douglas fir on a misty day. The great cathedrals of the world were built to emulate such groves of towering trees, which are the original places of worship.


This is the original place of learning and worship - everyone is welcomed here.



The forest wilderness is where John Muir went to discover the clearest way into the Universe. His prescription for all of us urban types was to occasionally spend a week in the woods to "wash the spirit clean".



DeMamiel Creek supports several species of salmon. The trees and fish have a mutually beneficial relationship.



Henry David Thoreau lived in the woods to learn what they had to teach. He found the trees and the things that lived with them to be a source of beauty, harmony, and perfection in cooperation.


Thoreau learned that in the woods everything does its part with thrift and equality, and he pondered the folly of not doing the same in the human world.



DeMamiel forest is accessible from the adjacent Sunriver neighbourhood.


Indian activist Vandana Shiva started her eco-education in the 1970s women-led Chipko movement. These are the original tree huggers - Chipko means "to hug or embrace". The women were so dedicated to their communities' Himalayan forests that they wrapped themselves around the trees to protect them from loggers saws.


After repeated walks among the beautiful oaks and rhododendrons, Shiva learned that "the forest teaches us enoughness: as a principle of equity, how to enjoy the gifts of nature without exploitation and accumulation."


By 1980 the Chipko movement scored a major victory for forests and the people when the Indian government imposed a 15 year ban on logging in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Similar logging bans spread to other states as communities took back forest resources for the benefit of the people living there.


Everything does its part, and each part
is as important as any other.


No species other than humans takes more than its fair share. In the forest there is no consumerism, no greed, and no accumulation for personal aggrandizement. There is the freedom to be and participate as a necessary and integral part of something larger to which we are all connected.


It is vital that we adopt the wisdom of the woods, and soon. Instead of clear cutting the last ancient forests to the ground, we should be studying and emulating them.


When we begin to learn their lessons we will begin to live in harmony with our environment, and with each other.


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