Star Puffball (Calvatia sculpta)
Part 4. Nature’s Wonders
In my previous three Blogs I tell about finding a Star Puffball and trying to make a sketch. After initially roughing it out on paper, I take a break before coming back to finish. When I return to my drawing I start penciling in the tips of the polygons. The pointed tips of each polygon are tricky; some lean this way, some that way, some are vertical, some tips bend over. The tips appear generally darker than the base of the polygon and are shaded on one side. To capture the shading, I start a second sketch and magnify a section of the puffball. Then I have room to carefully draw the horizontal lines that appear on each side of a polygon, defining the planes and contours. I want a record of just what I am seeing, but this much detail on a large drawing will not translate into a readable sketch; it would be too busy.
After working for a while my eyes need a rest. I sit back and breathe the fresh mountain air, still marveling at this amazing puffball. What an unexpected find: a white, spongy, geometric structure in the middle of a dirt road? This outdoor world is almost unbelievable at times. Extremely vulnerable in this location, some rodent is going to come along and eat it for dinner.
I love these camping trips. It is a joy to leave behind walls and doors for a time, enjoy the open space and breathe fresh air, with no radios or electronic sound to assault the senses. The more I learn about the variety of life here, the more I can almost hear the activity of growing things. After we camp in one place for a while, animals come around and look us over. Except for nuisance squirrels, the larger animals keep their distance, but they know we are here. Over time they treat us like we belong; we become part of the life community. That motivates me to walk more carefully, listen more closely, and be ever aware of the life around me, including this almost unbelievable creation. I’m glad I stopped to take another look.