April 15, 2019
The way that life grows on other life may be especially visible in semitropical and tropical locations. In Florida festooned trees draw my attention and wonder. A walk this winter in the Myakka River State Park with my friend Jean provided more instances of such complexities than usual—probably because Jean pointed out some beautiful examples at the very beginning of our wandering. The culmination was a tree and its inhabitants that Jean calls her favorite tree. Perched bromeliads (some people call them air plants, though that is a misnomer) and mosses growing on trees are easy to spot and appreciate. So are many species of lichens, which are not plants at all but hybrid life forms that combine fungi and (usually) green algae or cyanobacteria. Jean’s favorite tree is special for hosting a variety of lichens, including the sublest—pale washes of color that make you lean in to see if you can catch when one faint hue gives way to another. Even a short walk through a forest of growth on top of growth may be enough to make you marvel at the connectedness of life, perhaps even to recall the John Donne poem.
And a detail of the photo above:
August 18, 2018
June 1, 2018
This is a trickling waterfall I often hear as I walk along the river on the Schoepfle Garden grounds. But it’s tucked into a sort of corner, so I can never see it. A couple of weeks ago I had a wonderful opportunity to walk along the river on the opposite bank and could get at the corner. See those white patches on the rock? I think they may be evidence of the sulfur bacteria.
April 23, 2018
But apparently stationary ones do. See the third photo for context. Click on the image to see a higher-quality file.
April 22, 2018
I pass this slab of quarried sandstone nearly every time I visit Schoepfle Garden. It never looks the same. The first photograph is from my trip this past Sunday, April 14. The second is from about a year ago, April 18, 2017, and the third is from August 26, 2017. I know there are others . . .
November 7, 2017
I tagged this photograph with “lichen,” but I’m not really certain that the white marks on the large rock are lichens. What else could they be? Fossils in the stone?
Later in the Day
Scientist-husband David suggests “mineralized inclusions in the rock. Could be of biological or abiotic origin from what little I can see.”
We now have two more opinions favoring the lichen theory: One is from my husband’s colleague in the Oberlin College Department of Biology, and one is from Art Murphy, who usually knows a fossil when he sees one. (See Art and Fossils.)
April 19, 2015
August 27, 2012
Saturday was another day of sunshine and low water in the river. We’ve had enough rain lately that many of the rocks along the river have sprouted moss. Algae are more prevalent, too. And still—I assume because we’ve also had extended days of heat and sunshine—the iron bacteria have been visibly at work. Trees or their shadows overhang the shore on the “other” side of the river, where I took these photographs. So in the second photograph you see a lot of shade with the sun barely illuminating an area of wet shale covered with algae. The rust colors are the result of the bacteria having deposited iron oxide on the shale and algae. What you see in the third photo is what happens when a shaft of sunlight strikes a leaf (sycamore?) in a few inches of water populated by algae (and probably cyanobacteria, the dark blue-green color), some of which has been layered with iron oxide by the iron bacteria.