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Posts Tagged ‘lichen’

As spring belatedly decided to show up in our neck of the woods, a Hollywood movie crew turned the town into a Christmas set, building a crèche in front of a picturesque church, decorating store windows with candy canes, snowmen, and plastic poinsettias — and spreading fake snow on lawns that had barely recovered from an April 1 blizzard. It was a little weird. One friend said she looked up from washing dishes at her kitchen window and saw what looked like a gigantic spaceship hovering over the trees. It was the boom for the cameraman.

In more seasonal news, spring flowers began to poke out. Woodland walks were taken. Mushrooms and lichens were admired.

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I hope you’ll enjoy these photos and some explanations. The only one I didn’t take myself is the photograph of a dime.

Here’s the story of that. A couple days after the temporary ban on travelers from seven countries was announced, the teacher in a refugee ESL class where I volunteer was teaching about money — what different coins and bills are worth, whose picture is on them, what the words say, and so on. On her big video screen, she pointed out the phrase gracing the dime, “E Pluribus Unum,” and since I’d had Latin, I translated it as “Out of Many, One.” Sure did seem timely.

The sign from the January Women’s March was on a neighbor’s fence. The unprepossessing gray house, we recently discovered, was a Norwegian church in the 1800s. My husband had been telling his coffee group that he saw a sign by the Concord Post Office that said “Parking for Norwegians Only,” and someone told him, “Probably has something to do with the Norwegian church that used to be on Lang Street.” A Norwegian church was on Lang Street? That was a surprise!

The angry sky and the pictures of lichen need no explanation. The frosted window was taken last Friday, after our big storm.

The Frida Kahlo portrait was painted on a wall in the parking lot of Dorcas International, a refugee resettlement center in Providence.

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I find so many more photo ops in summer than in winter, although that may mean I am not paying enough attention when it’s cold out. Surely there are great shadows everywhere.

Here are a few pictures from the last two weeks.

From New Shoreham: a field with Fresh Pond in the upper left corner, yellow lichen taking over a stone wall and trees, roses growing by a gate, children warming up in the dark sand. In Providence: a shady walk on the west side of the Providence River, a painted butterfly on the path, a swan preening, a distant view of the so-called Superman Building, public art with a muskrat fishing (?), a poster explaining the art project. In Massachusetts: shadows on a tree, a chipmunk on a lichen-covered rock.

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John sent a link to an Atlantic article by Rose Eveleth on how mosses and lichens are being using in building design.

“For most architects,” she writes, “moss and lichen growing up the side of a structure is a bad sign. … But a new group is trying to change all that. Instead of developing surfaces resistant to moss and lichen, the BiotA lab wants to build facades that are ‘bioreceptive.’“BiotA lab, based in University College London’s Bartlett School of Architecture, was founded last year. The lab’s architects and engineers are working on making materials that can foster the growth of cryptograms, organisms like lichens and mosses. The idea is that ultimately they’ll be able to build buildings onto which a variety of these plants can grow. Right now, they’re particularly focused on designing a type of bioreceptive concrete.

“Marcos Cruz, one of the directors of the BiotA lab, says that he has long been interested in what he sees as a conflicted way of thinking about buildings and beauty: ‘We admire mosses growing on old buildings, we identify them with our romantic past, but we don’t like them on contemporary buildings because we see them as a pathology,’ he says. …

“Richard Beckett, another director of the BiotA lab, says that he’s interested in the project flipping the usual way that buildings are designed, at least in a small way. “Traditionally architecture is a top-down process, you decide what the building will look like, and then you build it. Here we’re designing for a specific species or group of species …

” ‘Every architect you speak to talks about the skin of the building,’ says Beckett. … Instead of skin, the lab wants people to think of the exterior of a building as bark. ‘Not just a protective thing, a host; it allows other things to grow on it, it integrates as well.’ ” More here.

I love the concept, but the story left me wondering what the designers’ main motivation might be. They say it’s not about green and sustainable buildings. It seems to be about aesthetics, being “attractive.” They do want the mosses to be self-sustaining and the look to be purposeful.

Photo: Dinodia/Corbis

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Suzanne has found us two “vacation rentals by owner ” in the last six months: one on the West Coast and one on the East. Other than being just right in their own ways, they had little in common. Except for one curious thing.

They both featured trees covered with some kind of moss or lichen. What should we make of this coincidence?

In my West Coast post, I did a little research and found a site suggesting that the mosses and lichens in California had a symbiotic relationship with trees. Another site said, “Tree decline is often not a simple cause and effect relationship but sometimes a complex web of interacting factors.” So I still have no idea if lichens are good, bad, or indifferent.

Today I offer some pictures from Little Compton, Rhode Island, where one of the seven of us celebrated a special birthday this weekend.

BTW, if you are looking for sweet seaside towns that time forgot, try the Rhode Island Farm Coast.

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In California, I saw a sign on a tree that was covered with lichens and surrounded by dead trees. It seemed a plea for help. But according to the Hastings Biological Field Station of the University of California, lichens can capture airborne nutrients and return them to the soil. That is considered good. Another website paints a more complex picture, suggesting lichens may sometimes be associated with the death of trees in California. Read it here.

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