Wednesday, February 5, 2014

1 + 1 = 1

From the pictures on television and on the internet this morning, other parts of the midwest and the East Cost are getting pounded by yet another winter storm. If the choice is between a Polar Vortex or a blizzard, dare we ask to see what's behind door #3? What troubles me immensely is the prospect that this Winter's weather pattern could be the new normal, thanks to climate change patterns. Warm Alaska and cold Minnesota is a pattern I can do without.

lichen, one or two types?
lichen, one or two types?       © harrington

While visiting Wild River State Park last Spring, I noticed this branch encrusted (is that the right word?) with lichen (a combination of a fungus plus a cyanobacteria or an algae). I hadn't gotten around to trying to identify what it is (they are?) until now. I'm still not sure, but yesterday's entry in Larry Weber's Backyard Almanac suggests it / they may be "blue-green lichen." That seems like it could be right for the specimen at either end of the trio. For the one in the middle, I think I need to do more research. Since I'm also in the process of reading Robin Wall Kimmerer's Gathering Moss, I may have the excuse I need for a new field guide. Now, if only the specimens I run into in the field will try to look more like what's in the field guides, I might be in business. I could even learn if John Kinsella is using his poetic license on lichen or telling a literal truth.

Lichen Glows in the Moonlight

By John Kinsella 
Lichen glows in the moonlight
so fierce only cloud blocking
the moon brings relief. Then passed by,
recharged it leaps up off rocks

and suffocates—there is no route
through rocks without having to confront
its beseeching—it lights the way,
not the moon, and outdoes epithets

like phosphorescent, fluorescent, or florescent:
it smirks and smiles and lifts the corner
of its lips in hideous or blissful collusion,
and birds pipe an eternal dawn, never knowing

when to sleep or wake. They might
be tricked into thinking their time’s up,
in the spectrum of lichen, its extra-gravital
persuasion, its crackling movement

remembered as still, indifferent, barely
living under the sun, or on a dark night;
climbing up you’d escape, but like all great
molecular weights it leaves traces

you carry with you into the realms
           of comfort and faith.

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