Photographer Caitlin Battersby works for a land conservation non-profit, and considers the slug one of her main spiritual teachers: “Slow down, please.” On the flip side she’s got a fondness for coyotes, as they are “the rebellious improvisational jazz singers flowing between worlds of wilderness and suburbs.” Based in Olympic Peninsula, WA, her favorite hobbies include sauntering in the woods, singing in the shower, and loosely studying natural history, herbalism, taoism, dreams, mythology, and permaculture. The twenty seven year old artist is a sporadic and obsessive learner who “usually has three or more seemingly unrelated books going on at once.” What’s in her purse, aside from the usual wallet and phone? An assortment of sticky pine cones, smooth river rocks, and dried plant bits of course (which she can’t seem to avoid collecting) – she calls these sidekick debris “fairy dust.”
Fungi are such a beautiful, tangible way for me to experience wonder and the mystery of life and existence. Everything in the forest or garden is connected to and covered in fungi doing glorious, invisible symbiotic work with their plant partners.
The mushrooms that we see are only a small portion of the fungal being. They are the fruit of a very large organism hidden from view. The mycelial network under the forest floor is a vascular, neural system that connects many species together: sharing nutrients, water, and information. What we see as a collection of shrubs and trees works as one interconnected being through the covert actions of fungi.
Every plant you see is coated in fungi called endophytes protecting them against pathogens and strengthening their shared immune system. Guardians.
A seemingly dead log is bursting with life as saprophytic fungi break down what is no longer serving a tree to allow that energy to dissolve back into the soil where it becomes part of many trees.
Being aware that I am continuously surrounded by and interacting with beings I may never see puts a scientifically magical feeling to my wanderings and adds a special joy to seeing those moist forest jewels when they do choose to appear.