Image #306 – Color of the Day – Banana Caterpillar

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A Banana Caterpillar

My friend Joe Bruneau likes to post “Today’s Color” on his Facebook account.  Today’s color is banana and I thought that was interesting since I found this almost banana-colored caterpillar on my deck rail this morning.  I think this is his face but for all I know he could be mooning all of us.  😀    ❦

In The Deep

Natalia Molchanova begins a deep dive.

Natalia Molchanova begins a deep dive.

Natalia Molchanova is dead. You can be forgiven if you have not heard of her. In this world of seven billion inhabitants there are people who accomplish great things that we never hear of or give witness to…until they are gone.

Ms. Molchanova was widely regarded as the world’s greatest free diver, perhaps in the history of the sport (at the time of her death on August 2nd she held 41 world records).

Free diving is a basic, no frills sport. All you need is a body of water and a diver. You hold your breath and dive as deeply as you possibly can. In Ms. Molchanova’s case it was very deep indeed. She was the first woman to ever pass the 100 meter depth. That is a little over the length of a football field, down into the sea and, of course, back to the surface again. Ms. Molchanova held the world record for holding her breath longer than anyone else – 9 minutes and 2 seconds!

These records are remarkable enough but are even more so when placed into the context of Ms. Molchanova’s life. She was originally a competitive swimmer but “retired” after giving birth to her son (who is also a free diver). She returned to training, and took up free diving, at the age of 40 and carved a spectacular career in the span of 13 years. At an age when most people begin to think about true retirement this remarkable woman found an outlet that not only satisfied her desire to compete but also, it seemed, gave her great spiritual reward.

“Free diving is not only sport, it’s a way to understand who we are,” Ms. Molchanova said in an interview last year. “When we go down, if we don’t think, we understand we are whole. We are one with world. When we think, we are separate. On surface, it is natural to think and we have many information inside. We need to reset sometimes. Free diving helps do that.”

In a world where we are constantly barraged by stimulus that forces an almost non-stop thinking, the prospect of “not thinking” is almost, well, unthinkable. And yet it seems to hold some key to finding an inner peace, ask any Zen master or Buddhist monk.  Or, perhaps, any child in the womb, waiting to be born, floating in their own sea, experiencing the oneness.

For Ms. Molchanova her moment of becoming one with the world is now eternal. Her body has not been found and her son has accepted that. “It seems she’ll stay in the sea,” he said. “I think she would like that.”  ❦

 

Images 302-304 Blue and Orange Mushrooms

Have I mentioned that I live in a rain forest?  Most people think of rain forests as tropical, mainly in places like Brazil and Africa.  But the Nantahala Forest, where my home is located in Franklin, NC, is close to being a temperate rain forest (more than 55 inches of precipitation annually and a mean temperature of 39º to 54º F).  It is very damp at times and this is one of them.  You can almost wring the moisture from the air and I have found myself tapping the hygrometer dial on my weather station, convinced it must be stuck on 100%.  It isn’t.

But for this mushroom loving gal this is THE place to be. The ‘shrooms are popping up everywhere, in a rainbow of colors and shapes. I have taken to walking early in the a.m. to see what emerged overnight.  And while many may be termed mundane as far as mushrooms go, others are spectacular.

Take this blue mushroom.  It is, I think, an Anise-scented Clitocybe but, honestly, it is so hard to know when the field guide gives you this: “dingy green to bluish-green,  sometimes blue or nearly white”.  Well, that’s a lot of latitude.

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The shape seems right. I never thought to check its scent and by the time I had read the field guide and returned to check its scent it was gone. The field guide did mention it was edible and we have many fat squirrels and chipmunks around here.

Here is a photograph of its underside. The gills were spectacular in the morning light.

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And if blue mushrooms are too dull for you check out these beauties.

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They are no taller than a dime and they must not taste very good because they have been very long lasting. They are, I believe, Orange Mycena (Mycena leaiana). Once again our friends at Wikipedia provide some fascinating details.

Mycena leaiana, commonly known as the orange mycena or Lea’s mycena, is a North American species of saprobic fungi in the genus Mycena, family Tricholomataceae. Characterized by their bright orange caps and stalks and reddish-orange gill edges, they usually grow in dense clusters on deciduous logs. The pigment responsible for the orange color in this species has antibiotic properties.

That last sentence caught my eye. Another site I visited while learning about rainforests taught me that 1 in 4 ingredients in our medicines are derived from rainforest plants.  We really need to stop destroying them. According to one site, an area of a rainforest the size of a football field is being destroyed each second.  ❧

 

Chris and Cooper

 

I’m really grateful to those of you who follow my blog. It is an honor to me that you give some of your time to read my words or look at my images.  I’m almost ashamed to admit I don’t follow too many bloggers but among those I do is Chris Condello’s: Green Thumbed Vagabond. Not every post but most of them. Chris presents a nice blend of poetry, gardening tips and life observations.  And his personal life is interjected just enough so that you respect him all the more for accomplishing the production of so much beauty…a lesser man might have just said, “F” it.

Chris’s most recent post is called My Little Buddy Cooper.  It’s about his dog, Cooper. Now, if you surf on Facebook at all you have seen your share of cute dogs but, trust me, Cooper is cute. He’s a Corgi. And he is presented in some wonderful images. You will just die for the one where he is running towards you with his tongue flying in the wind.

I wanted to share the wealth because that is part of blogging. Thanks Chris, keep up the good work.

Image #300 – In Its Prime

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An Amanita?

Everything has a prime…that time in the life cycle when all things “click.”  For humans the “prime” is elusive. Counter-intuitively, it seems there can be multiple “primes” when a life cycle spans more than six decades.  But for the mushroom on my hillside in North Carolina time is short and I believe I captured a Prime moment.

I snapped this picture yesterday. The ‘shroom almost yelled out to me.  It was poised, center-stage, in a brilliantly lit patch of decay.  By the time I fetched my camera the key-light had moved on but the mushroom was still an incredibly powerful presence.  Strong and vibrant, reaching for the sky.  It is, I think, some form of Amanita. When I returned today it seemed shriveled.  It had flattened out and something had nibbled on it.  My forest friends eat hearty in the summer, with all manner of mushrooms available along with berries and new buds.  Most mornings I awake to find deer munching on the apples from my trees. I don’t mind. There are plenty of apples and the only inconvenience is that the deer take all the low-hanging fruit so I must work harder to get the fruit that is left.  Working harder makes me realize I have passed my prime…at least my 6th decade prime…or so I think today.

I have been here for a week and have an almost visceral feeling of decompression. This small patch of land on Fawn Hill is a haven, a place to relax and enjoy just the being of life…however long that may be. ❧