A boulder perched at the edge of Hills Pond when I started the photo series. It became an island as the waters rose. Then ice linked it to land again. In spring, geese and ducks perched on its strong back. There were signs of trouble as algal bloom sullied the water and all the birds left.
Waiting unperturbed, the boulder bore silent witness to ducks returning as brilliant colors in shades of yellow, orange and red mixed with the greens. Though all of this, the boulder sat with perfect equanimity. It had me wondering whether I could be more like that. Probably not, but that I could appreciate (and hopefully remember) its still presence seemed to count for something.
When I was out taking mushroom photos, I came across two people from Europe with a basket full of hen of the woods as well as a bag of honey mushrooms, both gathered from the bases of oaks. I learned the number of edible mushrooms each person can collect is limited where they come from, but here, where there are no such limits, they had gathered so many they would need to give some away.
They explained that the best way to learn which mushrooms are safe to eat is to go out with an expert local guide. But books and online resources (like this one) can be helpful.
In addition to being eaten as food and medicine, mushrooms can have profound cultural significance. Those with psychotropic properties are used in healing rituals. The Maya carved wonderful anthropomorphic mushroom stones, and a jade pendant (the last photo below) bears witness to the significance the Chinese place on mushrooms and their use in traditional medicine.
Fungi support the health of forests and can survive fire. They have been used to control insect pests and to clean up plastic and organic waste. No doubt our appreciation for fungi will increase as we learn more about what they can do.