A friend of mine who walks with difficulty on uneven ground has an enhanced perspective on nature. By watching closely where he steps, he tends to notice the small things on a hike – in addition to taking in the expansive views.

Shaggy ink cap or shaggy mane. Often also called Lawyer’s wig: Coprinus comatus

Unlike many of us who unwittingly trample on the minute.

Lichen on trees and rocks is often indicative of the air quality

It brings to mind what Aristotle said: “In all things of nature there is something of the marvellous.”

Dryad’s Saddle or Polyporus squamosus
Crown jewels of fairy land; droplets enmeshed in a plant’s pod

Clarens in South Africa’s Free State province takes pride in its nature conservancy on the outskirts of town. For a small fee, one buys a permit that is more of a map; it indicates cycle routes and hiking trails, illustrated with impressive photographs.

Gushing stream after the recent rains
Orange webcap or Cortinarius mucosus

And it is here on the hiking trail that I make a point of spotting the tiniest of flowers and insects, delicately shaped fungi, brambles – some of which are ripe for the picking – and healthy lichen on the trees and sandstone. We follow the painted signs on rocks. There’s slippery mud on the path due to recent rains, a gushing stream, green moss, cascading water raining from above. We admire the deceptive fragility of spider webs and the birdsong from deep in the forest.

Delicate flower of the bramble bush
Tiny blue and purple flowers

A delicate perfume of nature fills the nose. High above towers the sand-coloured mountain, wispy clouds brush the blue sky, like puffy umbrella seeds of a dandelion floating away in the gentle breeze.

Droplets on green moss

“Nature is not a place to visit.  It is home.” — Gary Snyder, American poet.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Safrea or its members.


17 Responses

  1. Lovely, lovely, lovely piece of writing and photography. Makes one think, and wonder. And I will definitely pay more attention, next time I am out walking, to where my feet are going.

  2. Brilliant photographs Sam. Those drops … WOW. I tend to attempt the same thing. Tiny magnificence to be appreciated, enjoyed and captured. You have added to my enjoyment. Sometimes these beauties are in our gardens. I have I small translucent mushroom which raises its delicate head periodically. I’ll look for a photograph and send it to you.

    1. I appreciate your comment, Peter. Many thanks. You’re right that many of these lovely things are right under our noses. I was lucky to find a bunch of Shaggy Mane, or Lawyer’s Wig in my front garden yesterday and took pictures. But they last only a day; there are just soggy stalks this morning. So, yes, go out when you see them and take pics. Please send the one you’ve captured; I’d love to see it.

  3. Good day, Sam. Thanks f the clip.
    Have been walking this paradise f 12 and an half years, twice DAILY( thanks to my dear dog children!), and only marvel more each time at the beauty, variety, and now with the abundant rains, sheer lushness of our veld. Everything this year, especially, is plentiful ( flies too, alas ), making an hike THE most joyous event each day, at least f me.

    Enhanced by the awareness of the greatness , generosity and wonderful creativity of our God, as seen all around. Thanks again.

  4. Thank you for such an inspiring article. Is it possible to make it shareable as I would love to share it with guests busting Gentle Presence Cottage in Clarens 🌻

    Thank you for caring for nature and sharing!

  5. Thank you for such an inspiring article. Is it possible to make it shareable as I would love to share it with guests visiting Gentle Presence Cottage in Clarens 🌻

    Thank you for caring for nature and sharing!

  6. Pragtige foto’s – wys maar net weer dat wat die natuur so stil-stil skep eintlik mooier is as wat ons ‘kreatiewe’ mense kan regkry. Dankie dat jy ons aandag vestig op die skoonheid wat ons miskyk as ons fokus op die ‘groot’ wondere van die natuur.

  7. Leonie van Clarence het hier die pragtige stukkie met die mooiste fotos gestuur. Dis ons lewe in Moreletakloof Natuur reservaat, en dis ons lewens om die kloof te onderhou en elke dag ryklik gesëen te word met die ongelooflikste sampionee, fungi, slakies en goggers ou groot Berghardepeer bome. Ons is so lief vir ons pragtige Kloof🍃

    1. Dankie dat jy kommentaar lewer, Jeannie. Ek vermoed julle Moreletakloof is net so mooi; ek moet nog daar gaan stap. Jy kan gerus inteken op ons Safrea Chronicle; dis gratis. En ons wil graag meer lesers betrek.

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