Alliteration has its own allure!
Last week I was enduring a day of bad vehicle luck. My truck’s alternator had decided to retire early and I was waiting by the side of a gravel road for a friendly young farmer to return with a set of jumper cables. It was a pleasant day and I walked around a bit, seeing what there was to see.
A large limestone boulder caught my attention. Granite glacial boulders and chunks of quarried limestone are often used as ornaments in a farmer’s front yard. I walked over to the irregular hunk of calcium carbonate and squatted down. The boulder was a mass of fossils, crinoid stalks and scallop shells embedded in a matrix of microscopic fragments of smaller organisms, relics of a long-vanished inland sea. I thought about getting my camera out, but the sunlight was so bright and harsh, much too contrasty, and I could see the helpful farmer approaching me in a 4WD farm truck, a trail of limestone dust annoying anyone behind him.
I made a mental note to stop there on another day, preferably an overcast one.
Today was that day. The sky was overcast and the slight drizzle had moved on. I delivered the newspaper and backed the car up to the boulder. The light was diffuse, as if a translucent filter were being held over my head by a helpful photographic demon-assistant.
I was intrigued by the lichens; they seemed to prefer growing on the domed fossils of scallop shells, and it looked as if some of the original shell material endured after so many millennia, encasing the fossil surface and gradually weathering away. Perhaps the lichens preferred the extra minerals still present in those ancient shells. Who can say what lichens prefer these days? They can be fickle and subject to mineral-food fads.
The lichen-clad shells reminded me of coral reefs and islands in a sea of limestone. These are miniature landscapes, to my eye at least, but perhaps I should let some images speak for themselves; they can be much more articulate, in their own way, than I can:
The above photo reminds me of a new island recently heaved above the surface by subterranean geologic forces, with new vegetation colonizing the barren slopes.
Here’s a lichen coral reef:
I’d like some wallpaper featuring this design and these colors:
I was surprised that whoever lives in the nearby farmhouse didn’t come out to see what I was up to as I squatted in the yard. I’m amazed at how few people, even in the country, go outside any more!