Lichens Like Limestone

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!


9 comments on “Lichens Like Limestone

  1. Joan says:

    These are just so gorgeous, Larry. A miniature archipelago. Forgetting that overcast skies are best for photography, (next to sunrise and sunset) Today I raked leaves. Boy do I feel dumb. One thing we have plenty of around here is(are) lichen(s?).

    Oh well. I can still do a wee verse:

    Larry likes limestone and alliteration.
    This calls for a vote on the whole situation.
    Ask Laura and Leslie and Linda as well
    If all four like limestone then that would be swell.

    (Hmmm. Somehow that word ‘swell’ reminds me of old old.
    movies. “Gosh, Judy! I know what we can do to make money!
    We can put on a show!” “Golly, Mickey! That’s a swell idea!”)

  2. Virginia says:

    What “swell” pictures. Thanks for the recycled word Joan. The third image reminds me of a satellite view of the earth with the slightly out-of-focus limestone appearing to be clouds. I was surprised to see lichens colonizing clam fossils rather than occurirng randomly. Perhaps they like a little phosphate with their calcium. I looked for tiny palm trees on your atoll (second pic). No luck, but aren’t those mangrove swamps around the edges? I like limestone too, so enjoyed these pictures.

  3. bev says:

    Love the photos, Larry. Especially the ones that illustrate so well how the lichens seem to favour the fossilized shell bits.
    Enjoyed your poem too, Joan.

  4. Joan says:

    Thank you, Bev. It was sort of a scattershot post, however. As you probably already know, the women mentioned are Larry’s sisters. Glad to see your blog reactivated. Yay! Nice photo of Larry. Sorry you missed Hannibal..but with two dogs and the possibility of tourists it was probably a good idea. Hannibal is where I was born. I might consider burial there, but I have no need to travel back home, thanks to 5 years of Larry’s pictorial records of them thar hills. (grin)

  5. Larry says:

    Thanks, Joan. I enjoyed your reconstruction of a bit of dialog from a movie from the early 1940s. Mickey Rooney and Shirley Temple, perhaps?

  6. Joan says:

    Yup! 🙂

  7. Darrell says:

    Limestone is underrated; a wonder in itself and the place of jewel-like wonders?

  8. Larry says:

    And here people have been thinking that “limey” referred to Brit sailors whose teeth remain firmly fixed in their gums!

  9. Joan says:

    From limestone to Scurvy, in one magical fell swoop! This thread is all over the place..just like limestone. 😉

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