Saturday, August 2, 2008

If You Trust in Nature

If you trust in Nature, in what is simple in Nature, in the small Things that hardly anyone sees and that can so suddenly become huge, immeasurable; if you have this love for what is humble and try very simply, as someone who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor: then everything will become easier for you, more coherent and somehow more reconciling, not in your conscious mind perhaps, which stays behind, astonished, but in your innermost awareness, awakeness, and knowledge.

These are Rainer Maria Rilke’s words from Letters to a Young Poet, a slender but powerful book that I just reread early this morning. Beyond the deep words, an incident sticks in my mind. In his introduction, Stephen Mitchell wrote that “I once showed a psychic friend of mine a late photo of Rilke, and it took her three hours to recover from the glance." I like that.

This photo of a lichen was taken at the top of my hill, at the end of June. I love looking at the details of lichens, at the strange shapes and textures. Wondering what this one was called, I discovered it was difficult to determine. In a search, I came across a fascinating Web site, Lichens of North America. I was sidetracked into a whole other gorgeous and colorful world. Dr. Irwin M. Brodo, lichenologist, and photographers Sylvia Duran Sharnoff and Stephen Sharnoff also created a beautiful, comprehensive book by the same title, Lichens of North America.

I decided to contact Dr. Brodo at the Canadian Museum of Nature to see if he could help me with my lichen. Here’s his response:

Well, if it's really gray, it may be Myelochroa aurulenta (Powdery axil-bristle lichen). The medulla of that species is pale yellow. If the lichen is yellowish green (or "green" according to some people), it may be Flavoparmelia caperata (Greenshield lichen). The latter is much more common on trees along city streets (with clean air). Or, it could be something entirely different.

Thanks, Dr. Brodo. I’m thinking it’s Greenshield lichen, but I’m not sure. Whatever it’s called, it’s beautiful.

The photo was taken 6/29/08. Click on the picture to enlarge the image.


Admin said...

sometimes you so remind me of Annie Dillard...

i adore how you become absolutely enraptured with visions...material visions that you open into, exposing a new light/depth/awareness.

Christine said...

Your compliment made my day! Many thanks.

Admin said...

:) i'm happy to hear. xo