Sunday, September 10, 2017

Nature stories

A characteristic of being human seems to be a predilection for stories;  listening to stories, telling stories, creating stories and passing those stories along through time to others.  Folklore, mythologies, literature, television, blogs are various ways we have told stories throughout time to each other and may be one of the best things we do as human beings.
Stories often seem to be an attempt for us to make sense of or explain phenomenon that surround us in the world, they teach us lessons, provide emotional comfort, and sometimes just let us escape from aspects of life which can be mundane or unpleasant.
The natural world has always presented me with stories which have then intrigued me to pursue and discover more of those stories.  Those stories are out there everyday in countless numbers just waiting to share themselves with whoever happens upon them.  They don't always have a happy ending and most of the time the ending is never revealed as we encounter them somewhere in the middle of the story and only get to learn a small part of it.   This is, for me, what makes these natural stories the most interesting and exciting of them all, they are the story of all Life - you don't get to flip to the last chapter and find out how it ends you have to either stick with it page by page or read what you can and let your mind marvel over the infinite possible outcomes.

This is a fly agaric mushroom, Amanita muscaria, which I have written about in a post called Random Nature back in January of this year.  This mushroom has psychoactive properties, which is a scientific way of saying it is a "trippy" mushroom.  Please go back and read that previous post if you would like to know more about this pretty fungus.  The reason why I put this photo in this blog is because #1 I like the photo and just got lucky to catch the light  from the setting sun on it before it went into total shade and #2 because the next morning when I walked by it it was broken and fallen over.  The story in this photo for me is the one that explains how this mushroom got broken.  Night had fallen not long after this shot was taken and I walked passed it again around 5 in the morning so only 7 hours had passed.  The story that my mind plays out is that a small struggling crab being carried into the forest to be eaten by a mink, knocked this mushroom over with a pincer as it tried to free itself from an undesirable fate.

The beach at a low tide has so many stories to tell!  Low tide reveals so many potentially fascinating mysteries left behind by the receding sea water (an incoming tide could also be called reSEAding).  How did this respectable Sitka blacktail buck deer end up with its skull on the beach?  How did he die?  Hunter's bullet?  Strategic wolves?  Age?  Bad teeth? I will most definitely never know the story of this deer and that is why I love nature's stories the best.

This is a story for which I was able to piece together a little information to come up with a fairly believable scenario although what truly happened will remain a mystery that only this bear knows.  We spotted this scene while boating to Anan at low tide a few weeks ago.  This smallish black bear and blacktail deer carcass were down in the tidal zone on the Wrangell Island shore.  It is easy to see where the bear has buried part of the deer with sand and where it has eaten at least some of it.  It is also easy to tell that the deer carcass has been underwater through at least one tide cycle as the exposed rib cage and meat attached to it have the look of having been wet.  What were the events leading up to this discovery?  Did the bear kill the deer?  Did the deer die some other way and wash up on the beach?  If it did die some other way, how did it die?  Why hasn't the bear dragged the deer up into a more protected and hidden spot in the forest?  This isn't a particularly large bear but it still could kill a mature buck although at some significant risk to its own well being so in my mind, I leaned toward the story in which the deer died of some other cause and was then found by the bear.  I thought this until I talked to another person who had seen this bear and deer the day before and noted that the bear seemed to have been limping rather noticeably.  Maybe this was evidence that the bear did attack, fight, and kill the deer getting wounded in the process.  Maybe this was also why the bear had not dragged the carcass up the beach into the forest.  Only the bear knows and I truly like it that way.


  1. you're back! nice post and photos!

  2. Thanks Dee! Glad you still enjoy it!