At least once a week, we like to go rambling. Sometimes it's just Huz and the Owlets while I'm working. Sometimes it's all of us. Sometimes it's hard and difficult, but it's always rewarding and educational and inspiring. Time away from our lives, where there is only earth, trees, sky and all the other amazing sights, sounds, smells and textures that make up a forest. Each of us sees something new. Each of us sees something different and in our own way.
Huz, of course, is most taken by the fungi and their many forms. He wants to photograph them and call them all by name and study their functions and appreciate their many colours and stages of life.
The Owlets enjoy the adventure and hunting for treasure - a new or beautiful fungi to photograph or a bird or animal. They love time spent together and learning new things.
Me, I'm all about texture, colour and pattern. Finding treasures to photograph and take home to use in a quiet moment. And spending time with my gang.
A typical ramble for us involves a hearty breakfast, up early and well rugged. We grab as many snacks as we can find and maybe fill a thermos. If we're lucky, the place we're going will have a fire or barbecue, so we go ready for that, stopping for supplies on the way if we need. We each grab a phone or camera and maybe some tools for viewing things up close or at a distance - magnifiers, telescopes… Then we pile into the car, drive to the end of the street and pick a direction.
Once we're at the forest, we walk slowly, often loudly, and point out what we see along the way. Sometimes this comes in the form of "Dad! I found a fungi!" or "There's a leech on my shoe!!!" (thankfully this isn't often). There will most likely be arguments about who goes in front. And Little Owlet will be reluctant at the start. She feels small entering the deep dark forest, But once we're in the forest, walking, talking, breathing… Then the forest comes alive.
In the middle of the dark forest, we'll find ourselves in a little patch and if we pause, it's like time stops and tiny little lights switch on all around us. We notice an intricate city of organisms, all interconnected and doing what nature does. We observe fungi and humus, poo and pseudostipes, lichen and moss. We see snails and beetles and all manner of tiny interactions.
Suddenly we feel neither small, nor big, but part of it all. Passive observers, collecting and recording. Learning alongside each other. Witnessing nature's beauty on that particular day. We know next time we visit, the forest will look very different. We wonder at the interactions that come into play, and we're rather grateful to have an ecologist with mycological leanings on hand.
We'll marvel and wonder at the stories the forest has to tell. About the people here before us. And we make sure to leave it beautiful for the people after us.
If you happen to be in Hobart next weekend and you'd like to join us for a fungi ramble, you're most welcome. Huz is hosting his inaugural fungi ramble at Ferntree, along one of our favourite walks. You can see us rambling on it in more summery times in this video below. Huz will be sharing tips on how to photograph fungi, their ecology and more. We'll have a special little fungi spotting challenge for little fungi enthusiasts too. It's going to be heaps of fun! Book here if it sounds like something you'd like to do!
~ Lauren xx