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Fungus and ducks

Big spruceIt is that time of year again, that brief period when the woodlands erupt with pustules of fungal growth. Living things that have kept themselves hidden beneath the soil all year have been waiting for the first signs of autumn to send shoots up above ground so that their spores can be released into the air. Mushrooms and toadstools spend most of their lives in a dark underworld but need to poke something up into the air to propagate their species. The size, shape and colour of what rises above ground will vary but they are mostly soft, delicate, and vulnerable things which are easily damaged. Emerging by night or day seems to make little difference because they may only last a few hours before they are eaten or just blown to bits by the breeze. I cannot resist them. My camera swings this way and that focussing here and there in the quiet damp of the forest, trying to capture their essence as well as their image. The light is often dim between the towering spruce trees so a good photograph requires a steady hand. I do my best to snap what I can, quickly, before these exotic fruiting bodies, sporocarp, break apart and dissolve back whence they came.Fungus mix

Autumn brings out another creature around these parts. Bright yellow in colour, each one marked clearly with their own number, they are released into Carradale Water to bob off downstream, eagerly egged on by a sizable proportion of the population of the village. Duck race competitorsOnce again this year the weather on the day is kind to the Duck Race organisers (the ducks themselves don’t seem to care) but just two days earlier we had such a downpour that it seemed unlikely we would even have a village left. We needn’t have worried though for unlike many parts of the country, here in the Highlands no matter how much rain falls from the sky it just runs away into the ground. The river, although deep brown in colour, settles back to its normal level very quickly.

After a promising start duck #431 just seems to miss the point entirely and puts in a disappointing performance, swimming around in circles then hiding beneath a grassy bank whilst all the others hurtle off downstream towards the finish line. So no prizes for us then.

The inhabitants of Carradale have another treat in store on Duck Race day. For this we only have to wander along to the bus stop at the top of our road at the right time when along comes the Kintyre Schools Pipe Band, marching in formation and playing at full volume.Kintyre Schools Junior Pipe Band As the sun slowly dips behind the hill this multiple competition winning band give their all with a repertoire of familiar tunes and much drumming and twirling of drumsticks. We all feel very honoured and proud of these highly disciplined and impeccably dressed youngsters who must practice long and hard to reach this standard. The event just says ‘Scotland’ as powerfully as it can and makes us feel good to be here.

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