....my fear diminished
as they bloomed through the water
like flowers, like flecks
of an uncertain dream,
while I lay on the rocks, reaching
into the darkness, learning
little by little to love
our only world.
~ from Starfish, by Mary Oliver ~
Lichen and mushrooms may not have the same animal charisma starfish do. Nor do you have to reach into a dark crevasse during low tide to touch them, but something about Mary Oliver's poem spoke to me as I struggle with the daily barrage of increasingly bad news and reminded me of these pictures I took this past week for an online lichen course.
The top photo is of a small branch overhanging a creek. What looks like a furry skin with a white border covering the bottom of the branch is, as far as I can tell, a fungus called Ochre Spreading Tooth (Steccherinum ochraceum). There are also several species of lichen sharing this branch with the fungus. I couldn't bring myself to disturb this miniature tableaux by taking any samples for identification.
The second picture is a close-up of a Balsam tree trunk behind our house. There are at least five or six different lichen species on this tiny surface. For scale, the bulbous green lichen in the middle would fit on a dime with room to spare.
I've been trying to deal with the current lockdown here in Ontario by staying busy. I took several writing courses over the winter—and got a bit burnt out, hence no blog posts for so long. Then this lichen course. Soon, I'll be busy with the garden. Meanwhile, the pandemic rages on. I feel helpless and undeservedly privileged to live in this peaceful corner of the world. I donate to charities that help those affected by this scourge and I try to stay out of its way. And I do my best to honour this "our only world" by paying attention to these amazing things that seem "like flecks of an uncertain dream."
For the full text of Mary Oliver's poem follow this link.
Take care, and stay safe.
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I'm Elizabeth Pszczolko, a writer living in the woods outside Thunder Bay, Ontario. As a child, I used to keep scrapbooks of nature stuff - drawings, musings, poems. This is my grown up (I use the term loosely) version of those long lost works. For more on what inspires this blog, please see the About page.