Small worlds

MJ and I decided to go to Cofrin Nature Park today, which is a free city park.  It’s a great place to take younger kids since it has a playground and the trail itself is only a half mile long, with no difficult or muddy spots.  It is full of small worlds, like the one above, at just the right height for little kids to see.

I found myself being drawn to the texture and detail today, more than to the bigger picture, although not in the zen mood that I was a few days ago.  The folds of this palm frond collect and repel light.  If it were a black and white photo, this could be anything, from a roof, to a wall, to a pleated skirt.  The color immediately reveals its true nature as a plant, helped a bit by its orientation.

A small branch, truncated and decaying, glows in the bright sunlight, revealing crags and holes that protect the very bugs that destroy it. The flesh of the tree has darkened to a orange-brown that stands out from the background of green leaves.  The tree itself is still thriving, with green needles on its branches.  It is the branch that provides the those that invade it with food and shelter, all in one.

Moss grows thick on a log that sits in shade for much of the day.  Thick as grass, verdant and enchanted feeling, this moss creates a miniature world as it covers the bumps of the log.  All sense of scale could be so easily lost, with the log becoming rolling green hills, if not for the leaves and pine needles scattered around it.  The structure of this moss, far from being a uniform plush velvet, is branch like and drapes over the terrain of the log like vines.

In another place, moss grows along a living root, scaling the tree’s life source as if it were a mountain, while the grain of the root looks like the strata of the earth. The leaves that cling to the roots become roofs to shelter the creatures within.  Although those creatures could be anything from ants to worms, it is easy to believe that they could be fairies, with leprechauns living just over the hill.


Communities of  fungus grow on the ruins of  trees, clustered thickly together.  Looking like sea creatures, deep beneath the sea, waiting for divers to find their hidden treasures, these oyster-like fungi grow in fascinating formations.

Nearby, on a decaying log, striated fungus sprouts in a single cluster.  No oyster colony this, but a shelter from sun and rain for any who can fit under it.  The green near the base of the formations echo that of the leaves behind it.

Elsewhere, fungus clings to the face of a newly felled log, as if clinging to the cracks in a cliff.  With no ground to stand on below the nodes, these petals look as if they are there to provide tenuous hand-holds for those who would scale this craggy face to the top of its heights.

Nature is not the only one who creates these small worlds.  Above the caretaker’s cottage, a wind vane caps a care-worn house far above the ground.


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