Saturday, January 10, 2009

Stone Crop

It's been a pretty exciting festive season in blog world. Shark attacks, people getting sacked, marooned, falling in love, unrequited love, great recipes, road carnage etc, etc. I feel under immense pressure to come up with something more controversial, more hard-hitting, more topical. So here it is: LICHEN.

Those colonisers of extreme stress habitats, the war zone journalist of the natural world, are a radical mix of fungi and algae (the algae's penchant for photosynthesis provides vital rations
to the fungi).
Like the Bedouins, lichen always manages to look beautiful despite living in some of the harshest climates on the planet.
How am I doing?

"They laced themselves together against a warm rock in the sun, her hair oiled and sleek, her fingers clutching at the sulphur flowers of lichen that crept over the granite. The day the boy was made, granite imprinted its nature upon her breast." Earth Law Body Law.

It is a habit of mine to get dropped off on a deserted island or beach somewhere, as the sun is going down. We could be jigging for squid or doing something else productive. But these moments
alone, with my feet in warm water as the tide changes and the light becomes golden and the wind drops, are manna for the

I find myself comparing species of lichen and taking mobile phone photographs of their 'creeping flowers', expanding in concentric circles like mycelium in a fairy ring of toadstools.
In each area, their colour and form changes. Gull Rock's
colonies are predominately marigold orange and there is a little orange path of stepping stones through the weeds. Alarmed petrels wheel

At Pallinup, lichen frosts the paperbarks with pale green fairy fluff.
At Quaranup, the colours of lichen change from one side of the
point to the other. There is a secluded little cove where you
can pick native spinach. It spills out of the hill, its brilliant
emerald green pouring down, Celtic hues stark
against the bright orange stonecrop. Lichen Magic.


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  2. Yes Sarah, you have done well. We need more feel good stories, stories of symbiosis, of mutual arrangements between the kingdoms... We can all learn from these organisms.

  3. On the day i left Albany a man was scraping the lichen off his fence on Middleton Road and giving it a new coat of Mission Brown. I have a lot of empathy for lichen.