Custom Search

Friday, November 30, 2012

Fruiting Bodies

What we normally think of as individual mushrooms like those above are generally most likely the fruiting bodies of a mycelium somewhat like the flowers on a tree branch. But the mycelium is a mass of thread-like fibres below ground rather than a branch or stem. Not all mycelia produce fruiting bodies. It takes two compatible mycelia to join together to give rise to fruiting bodies such as mushrooms. Some of these mycelia are very small but others, according to Wikipedia, are very large.
...the largest organism in the world? This 2,400-acre (9.7 km2) site in eastern Oregon had a contiguous growth of mycelium before logging roads cut through it.Estimated at 1,665 football fields in size and 2,200 years old, this one fungus has killed the forest above it several times over, and in so doing has built deeper soil layers that allow the growth of ever-larger stands of trees. Mushroom-forming forest fungi are unique in that their mycelial mats can achieve such massive proportions.
—Paul Stamets, Mycelium Running

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Shaggy Mane Mushrooms

I am enjoying mushroom season. When I went to Thetis Lake Regional Park on Saturday (our first sunny day in about a week) I crawled around in the undergrowth for a few hours photographing very tiny mushrooms and when finally exhausted and sated I trudged back to the parking lot I was rewarded with a grove of Shaggy Mane Mushrooms within a few steps from the parking lot.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mushroom With a View

Sincere apologies to E. M. Forster, but I couldn't resist.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Toadstool Tuesday

Mushroom or Toadstool? I used to think there was some kind of distinction between the two and that only I was ignorant of the difference. However, a little research indicates that the vagueness in my mind is simply a reflection of the actual state of affairs. Regardless of what some people may think, there is no clearcut distinction between mushrooms and toadstools. One person's mushroom may be another person's toadstool. Toadstool is certainly the more picturesque of the two terms but in the past it has been associated with poisonous fungi and it seems that it is fading out of use. These fungi were photographed in Thetis Lake Regional Park.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Willows Beach

Another one of Victoria's favorite places for a stroll is Cattle Point, where these photos were taken looking towards Willows Beach. The sun bathers and sand castle builders are gone but there are still lots of folks out walking their dogs in the crisp November sunshine. - Fern

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Outrigger Canoes

These folks were really going fast when they passed the rocks at Macauley Point this morning. After a rainy week it has been a lovely weekend of sunshine and we soaked up the beauty knowing how lucky we are to live in this little corner of the world. - Fern

Saturday, November 24, 2012


I believe this is the infant version of yesterday's slimy mushroom.

Friday, November 23, 2012


Mushrooms seem to come in as wide a range of varieties as other types of plants. And they have different characters. Some are very crisp and clean looking and others, such as the one above, are slimy and unkempt.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Capital Iron with Christmas Lights

After I posted a photo of Capital Iron a few days ago, blog visitor Pedro commented that I should check it out after dark when they turn on their Christmas Light display. The photo above doesn't do it justice but the 15 seconds of video below does. Thanks Pedro!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

More Mushrooms

When I'm out in the bush focused in on these little beauties my enthusiasm usually results in a kind of tunnel vision that neglects the details. Then when I look at these photos later I think (taking the one above as an example), "Why didn't I move that blade of grass out of the way?" This kind of thinking is what has led me to being a writer. It's always possible to go back over a sentence and re-write. Change the words, move them around, take some out, add some, work it over until it slides smoothly through the mind leaving a trail of vibrant images. However, with a photograph one is capturing an instant in time. It is necessary to be much more concentrated during the actual creation than with writing. That errant blade of grass above raises another aesthetic question: whether or not to alter "reality" to suit one's artistic tastes. Nature put that blade of grass there; who am I to move it out of the way? For me there is no question. Art is about making sense and/or beauty of the chaotic and often unpleasant world we live in. Sometimes you can simply find that logic or beauty but more often you have to make it out of bits and pieces that are available in your environment.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Capital Iron

I'm sure every city has a store like Capital Iron. It's the store you go to when you can't find what you want in any of your ordinary stores. It's probably closest to being a hardware store but also stocks all sorts of camping equipment, marine supplies, small appliances, plants and garden statuary and, and, and, etc. The building itself has an interesting history. It was built in 1863 from a design by the same architect (H.O. Tiedemann) who designed Victoria's original Legislative Assembly Buildings, known as "The Birdcages". It was built to serve as a flour mill and then became a scrap iron business in 1934. Since then it has evolved into what it is today. It's located at 1900 Store Street, directly above the Upper Harbour.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thetis Lake Park

We never, ever get tired of this beautiful park and it's ever changing colors and moods. - Fern

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Rock Bay

Victoria is primarily a tourist town but we do have some areas of industrial activity and it's an interesting challenge to photograph them.
- Fern

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Everything Mural

Here's a new mural - this one located on Store Street at the end of the parking lot opposite Capitol Iron. I can't give any background information on this except to say that after pondering it for some time I've decided that it may be a representation of what's in most people's minds these days - a soup of various platitudes, iconic figures, cartoons and memos. Within the larger design it seems that individual artists have painted specific tiles.

Friday, November 16, 2012

More Mushrooms

Mushroom season is definitely upon us and I'm addicted to these micro-environments. All the green seems to have fled from the macrocosm to the microcosm.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Old Man Mushroom

This was such an inconspicuous mushroom I almost stepped on it but when I looked at it more closely I realized I had never seen one before. I am calling it an Old Man Mushroom because it's covered with gray hair. My personal senior's moment these days is trying to figure out where I left my mushroom field guide....

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Carbon Antlers or Candlesnuff Fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon)

After checking out the pumpkin graveyard at Mount Douglas Park I went for a walk in the park itself and was pleased to see these little fungi - Carbon Antlers or Candlesnuff Fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon). I like them because they always remind me of how fundamentally mysterious nature is. Normally I think I know how common plants function - flowers and seeds and photosynthesis etc., but when I see these little plants I realize I haven't a clue about why they look like they do and what their life cycle is and I feel like I'm visiting Mars or some equally alien environment.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pumpkin Graveyard

Here's an event that seems to be developing into a Halloween tradition. Every year after Halloween is over people take their carved jack o'lantern pumpkins to Mount Douglas Park and line them up along the roadside or rail fences. It seems to me I noticed a few other pumpkin dumping grounds in recent years but I can't remember where. In any case there were many more pumpkins this year at Mount Douglas Park than when I first noticed this custom a few years ago. It seems a very fitting tradition in that it is probably illegal to dump pumpkins like this and an intrinsic part of Halloween has always been the upsetting of norms and rules. It's also very striking to see many carved pumpkins decaying together like this - it seems appropriately ghoulish.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Walking the Line

Taking pictures down at the railroad tracks has always been a favorite for me, they are so iconic. This, however was also bittersweet. The trains don't run here anymore. Money and politics of course. Someday though, I hope to hear the whistle blow as the Dayliner makes it's way up island once again. - Fern

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Day of Remembrance

All across the world this day is a time to pause and remember, and to hope for peace in the future. - Fern

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Mystery Mushrooms

Yesterday's mushroom photo was from my second day's search for this season's mushrooms. On our first day out (in Mount Douglas Park) all we saw were these little guys. There were lots of them and it was Fern who noticed that many of the clusters were growing from single pine cones like the one above. There are a number of different mushroom species that like to grow from pine cones so I can't identify these with any certainty. These were photographed in Thetis Lake Regional Park.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Mushroom Season

My ostensible purpose in visiting Thetis Lake Regional Park earlier this week was to see if any mushrooms had responded to the autumn rains. They are still not too numerous but there are several different kinds popping up now. These were the largest I saw before a heavy rain forced me to run for home.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Lichen 2

No need to go to exotic climes to find weird and extraordinary plants. Whenever I remember to focus down and look at the microcosm a little I am always entranced with these wonderful little fungi. If you have a few minutes read HERE what Wikipedia has to say about these fascinating plants, which are actually two kinds of organism merged indissolubly together. Today's photo is again from my recent stroll in Thetis Lake Regional Park.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Yesterday's photo showed the mosses and ferns rampant in Thetis Lake Regional Park. Above are some of the lichens enjoying this cool dark season. The red-capped lichen is called British Soldier Lichen (Cladonia cristatella) because the red caps are reminiscent of those worn by British soldiers stationed overseas in the 19th century.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Second Spring

Victoria usually dries out during the latter part of summer and when the rains return in autumn it is almost like a second springtime. Mosses, lichens and ferns cover the forest floor with vibrant greens. These ferns were springing up yesterday in Thetis Lake Regional Park.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Ogden Point Breakwater

We haven't been for a walk on the breakwater for such a long time and even though it was raining we decided to go for it. There was absolutely no wind so the water was calm and you could hear the big, fat rain drops hitting the water. Quite cool. - Fern

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Garry Oak Meadows

On a walk at Cattle Point Park I discovered that just inland of the water is a beautiful wild space of mossy rocks, and big old oak trees. When the leaves began to fall at this time of year I once again become enamored with the twisted and gnarled branches of these iconic trees. - Fern

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The "Pacific" Coast

Reading about the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy on the Atlantic Coast makes me appreciate how generally peaceful our ocean is on this coast. Here's a scene from a few days ago taken from the beach below Mount Douglas Park looking towards the San Juan Islands.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Autumn on the Beach

The beach that borders Mount Douglas Park has some nice autumn colours.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


I'm feeling very old today because, for the first time in my life, I forgot that yesterday was Halloween. The entrance to my place is not on the street so I don't get any trick or treaters and it just slipped my mind that Halloween was taking place outside. Anyway, here's a belated Halloween photo that I took a few days ago on the beach below Mount Douglas Park. Someone carved this pumpkin and then set it on display there.