I’ve been examining some of the natural objects I’ve picked up over the last few months and I am always amazed at the extraordinary things that can be observed when one stops to really look.

This is a collection of small but very different natural works of art, etched out by time and environment.
This worn shell from Cape Breton reminds me of a delicate piece of filigree china.

It also appears to have tiny articulated legs!? Perhaps the calcified legs of some other creature, or some sort of plant growth, I really don’t know. Or maybe it’s just the way it’s wearing away. Any ideas?

This small stick I picked up from the shore of the Ottawa River is heavily engraved with “drawings” made by insects. The first thing that comes to my mind, is that it looks like a little carved totem pole.

Below are images taken of fossil-bearing rocks from the Ottawa area. The first three contain beautifully patterned fossils of tetradiids, which were solely Ordovician lifeforms. These fossils are quite small and were photographed using a macro lens.

Fossils in the abstract.

All images © Karen McRae

67 thoughts on “Recurrence

  1. Amazing collection of photos. Sea-snails almost looks like hand curved ornaments.
    The pattern made by the small wood beetle under the bark really looks like man made. Again, the fossils in the stones looks like the primitive cave drawings.
    Good findings.

  2. These are incredible, Karen! ‘Hieroglyphs’ on shells, wood and fossils – like looking into an ancient culture. Thank you for bringing them to light.

  3. What fantastic finds and captures! Particularly the tetradiids, just beautiful..I love to think of all these little creature communities going on about their business in tandem with our world..

  4. I love that piece of wood…we have a big ‘rain stick’ made of scribbly gum that has the same sort of insect carved pattern…’s been sliced in half and filled with seeds and other materials that make the sound of rain through different chambers when you turn it…..and our authentic didgeridoo is from a piece of wood that’s been hollowed out by white ants – not machinery like most of the tourist trade rubbish sold here. I love how something so beautifully musical, and wonderfully tactile, has been made by insects. – Your photos are wonderful, you have such a unique eye for the micro details of life.

  5. What natural treasurers…if only one will take time to look. Thanks for sharing. I have always collected “nature art” and will continue to do so. It has more meaning.

  6. I loved these images and your thoughts!! I have thoughts like these when I walk on Skye, or on holiday in Cornwall. We are so lucky to be amongst wonder wherever we are in the world.

  7. Aliens – only explanation.

    I found some great rocks on my last trip out. Marble, crystal and coated like frost. I can’t resist, and the pile is getting bigger.


  8. I really did think that stick was a piece of old artwork at first – how incredible that little insects created their own piece of art work. Stunning photographs too!

  9. Just beautiful – there is beauty in everything, and your posts (all of them, actually) is such proof of that. The totem-like pole is so elaborate! And the legs in that shell – a little crab from a former life? Great work karen! Always inspiring! A reminder to always look for the best in everything.

    1. Marina, thanks so much. I find all these things very intriguing and I’m glad other people do, also. I know I’ve thanked you over and over, but I so appreciate your generous input. 🙂

  10. Do insects know scrimshaw? That was my first impression when I saw that piece of engraved wood. Lovely how our imaginations continue to soldier on without being intimidated by common sense.

    I love to draw seashells – like photography, it makes you appreciate the wonderful detail, the incomparable beauty.

  11. Oh how much fun we would have on a walk along the shore. I have a large collection of shells, driftwood, polished glass, etc, etc… and I’m also fascinated by the details. I found a huge piece of driftwood two nights ago that I wanted, but couldn’t manage to carry it home (need a boat). It also had lovely engravings. Absolutely beautiful.

  12. When I was a child, I’d look at a rock, a shell, an insect-carved piece of wood or a patch of moss and imagine miniature worlds set there, microscopic beings using the insect carvings as their mazes or city streets…

    This takes me back in a most amazing way.

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