bark, fungi, lichen, moss (and a bird)

3.9.21 ~ The Merritt Family Forest, Groton, Connecticut

We had a lovely winding stroll through what’s becoming my favorite woods on Tuesday. It felt like a visit to an early spring outdoor art gallery. The weather was perfect and we encountered quite a few people along the way enjoying the sunshine.

Even though there were many birds chirping and flitting about I was only able to capture one of them with my camera!

tufted titmouse

And solitary places; where we taste
The pleasure of believing what we see
Is boundless, as we wish our souls to be.

~ Percy Bysshe Shelley
(The Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley: In Three Volumes)

Wednesday we went to have our income taxes done. It was the last thing we did last year before we went into self-quarantine. We double-masked up, not knowing what to expect, and our masked preparer waved us a greeting and unlocked the door. It was good to know they weren’t letting people wander in without appointments. Someone in the office had tested positive recently so most of the preparers were at home in quarantine but ours had been fully vaccinated so she was working in the office. Glad to see there was plexiglass and hand sanitizer everywhere…

So it’s been a year. We have both had our first vaccination shots. Tim gets his second Moderna on the 17th and I will get my second Pfizer on the 26th. Looks like our self-quarantine will officially end on April 9. Plans for the little ones (and their parents!) to come for a visit are in the works, most likely in May. It’s all I can think about!

Unlike animals, trees cannot heal a wound by repairing or replacing injured tissues. Instead they wall them off, compartmentalizing them by means of chemical and physical barriers, and subsequently form healthy new growth around them. A succession of organisms, from bacteria and fungi to slugs, insects, and other small animals, moves in to utilize the nutrients and spaces opened up by a tree wound. These organisms in turn provide an important food source for many birds and other animals who live in surrounding uplands as well as in the swamp.
~ David M. Carroll
(Swampwalker’s Journal: A Wetlands Year)

We will still wear our masks and practice social distancing in public, but I think we will go more places and are even looking forward to eating at our favorite restaurant again, starting outdoors until we feel comfortable going inside…

But, fair warning, these are the latest statistics: New London County now has 19,624 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of those, 10 people are currently in the hospital and 417 have lost their lives. That’s 2,871 new cases since January 30 when I last reported. Will a day ever come when there are no new cases reported?

Connecticut’s positive test rate is now 3.07%. 25% of Connecticut residents have had their first dose of vaccine. Connecticut has had 7,752 deaths since the pandemic began. We are still averaging 7 deaths a day in the state. These are people and families are still being devastated by the loss of the their loved ones. Each and every one of these people represented by the numbers was the most important person in the world so someone. We still have to be very careful and not let our guard down.

My hope is, when we come out of self-quarantine, that we will continue with our nature walks and not get too swept up in the demands of a return to “normal” life.

It is easy to overlook this thought that life just is. As humans we are inclined to feel that life must have a point. We have plans and aspirations and desires. We want to take constant advantage of all the intoxicating existence we’ve been endowed with. But what’s life to a lichen? Yet its impulse to exist, to be, is every bit as strong as ours — arguably even stronger. If I were told that I had to spend decades being a furry growth on a rock in the woods, I believe I would lose the will to go on. Lichens don’t. Like virtually all living things, they will suffer any hardship, endure any insult, for a moment’s additional existence. Life, in short, just wants to be. But — and here’s an interesting point — for the most part it doesn’t want to be much.
~ Bill Bryson
(A Short History of Nearly Everything)

27 thoughts on “bark, fungi, lichen, moss (and a bird)”

  1. Wow, I love these photos. I love all the small things in nature that many people miss. We get our second Phizer shot March 16. Will be glad when we can venture into the world.

    1. Thank you, Peggy! All these nature walks have made me more appreciative of the simple and the small… You’re lucky you could get your shots together. Tim & I were in different age groups so he got to go first. Good luck with your second shots!

      1. My husband and I are in the same age bracket. I must admit I am a little worried about the second shot – have heard some people get very sick. I am sure we are older than you .

        1. I guessed you were older after reading your comment about growing up in the 50s on Sarah’s blog post about fish sticks. 🙂 Tim got his second Moderna shot yesterday, so far his only symptom is a sore arm. Hope yours goes well!

          1. Sore arms after our second Pfizer shot, but no other symptoms. Thank goodness. Yes older than you. Dave 84 and Me 78, but we can still get around very well and together we have a whole brain. Ha Ha

          2. So happy for you! Tim is 68 and got his second Moderna shot — sore arm and a low-grade fever but he’s still puttering around. I love that together you have a whole brain! 🤣 I hope we will be doing as well when we get to your ages!

    1. Trees don’t leaf out here until the end of April but yesterday I did see my first snowdrop and some buds on a beach rose, enough to give me hope! Tim developed a hard lump, redness and itchiness on hs arm one week after his Moderna shot so they advised him to get the second one in his other arm. I had a mild headache the day after my Pfizer shot. Will see what happens with the second ones… Good to hear your reaction was mild. 🙂

  2. I love particularly the lichen photos. And the big cap of green moss on the bolder – I wanted to paint a face on it. I had a brown moss starting to take over my stone tiles on the terrace, and it effectively melted down the stone beneath it through just a couple of years or so. I love how LIFE wants to put down roots everywhere – AND it needs to be pruned and cut down also, so isnt all growing into one big thicket. Hugs,Barbara

    1. I was enchanted with the reindeer lichen sticking out of the branches, too. Would love to take a walk in the woods with you, Leelah, to see which boulders you would choose to paint. Back in 2007 we had an anonymous artist painting trees and rocks in the woods behind our condo complex. If you’d like to see what he/she did you can find my pictures back in this old post:
      After these faded away the artist never returned. 🙁 *hugs* to you, too, my friend.

  3. A lichen with the will to live. Now that’s a thought for the day. Good for getting your jabs lined up. I look forward to seeing where your post-pandemic life takes you. And what glorious photos you’ll take.

    1. Those little reindeer lichens growing out of the fallen branches were so magical to me. Did they start growing on the branch before it fell off the tree? Or did the spores jump from a rock to the branches after they fell? The things that go on in a forest… I hope you’ll be getting your vaccinations soon, too, Ally! Post-pandemic life — still difficult to imagine…

  4. Spring and Hope are making an appearance in your post. So glad to hear that a visit with the grands is in the offing! I’m scheduled for dose #2 on 3/22 but am hoping to reschedule for the weekend, in CASE there is any “downtime” afterwards.

    Looking forward to getting together (fingers crossed) after 4/15!

    1. Good luck with your second shot, Janet! I cannot wait to see you again, my dear friend! We will walk and talk and walk and talk some more… My sister is getting her first dose today so things are looking up — pretty soon there will be an abundance of greenery in the world outside and all our loved ones puttering around within these walls once again!

  5. Lovely photos, wonderful variety, Barbara! It is beginning to feel like we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. And I do agree, we still have keep our guard up, we’re not at the end yet. My 4 yr old grandson just returned a week ago to preschool from a 10-day quarantine because two classmates tested positive for covid. 😟 On a happier note, I hope the next weeks fly by for you to get to wrap your arms around your grandchildren! Last night, we got our first vaccine appointments for 3/21, we spent today beginning our packing up and preparation to get on the road in the next few days to be home on time. We’re leaving earlier than planned, but we’re more excited now about getting our vaccines than staying longer for any birds or gators hikes! 😉

    1. Thank you so much, Donna! I am a little nervous because the grandchildren won’t be vaccinated but the CDC seems to think the risk to them is very low and their parents are good with it. We offered to wear masks but we shouldn’t have to in the house. Can’t wait to take them for walks. We got a picture of our 2-year-old grandson wearing his little mask — so cute. What a world we’re living in! That must have been scary knowing your grandson was exposed to someone who tested positive. That happened to our daughter-in-law’s teenage nephew and it was so difficult keeping him quarantined, but thankfully he tested negative after the 10 days. Have a safe trip home and good luck with your vaccinations! 🙂

  6. I had my second dose today (actually yesterday, the 12th) and I am also looking forward to more freedom after the two-week kick-in period.

    As always, I love your photos, especially of the lichen and the tufted titmouse. I think I will have to reserve that Bill Bryson book from the library–I do enjoy him so!

    1. Congratulations, Timi! In a couple of weeks you will be officially fully vaccinated! Thank you for loving my photos. 🙂 Spotting the reindeer lichens and the tufted titmouse made my day. I’m just getting acquainted with Bill Bryson. I loved the movie they made out of his book, “A Walk in the Woods.”

  7. This was a wonderful walk, Barbara, thanks so much for sharing the magnificence of the moss and fungi, leaves and bark, and the adorable tufted titmouse. I liked all the quotes peppered in, too, especially the Shelley poem. Sending warm wishes for a safe emergence….

    1. Thank you, Jet! It won’t be long now, although we are getting a little bit of snow tomorrow morning, lest we forget winter isn’t officially over yet. 🙂

  8. In the dregs of Winter, with not a sign of Spring in sight, you have captured all the beauty of the forest Barbara. That little dab of green and lots of colorful lichen … yes you know there is life within this pretty wooded area. That’s great that you and Tim will soon be sprung from COVID jail, with some limitations of course. You will continue to indulge in your nature walks – both of you will, just because you enjoy it so much. Exciting you can make plans to reunite with your family – a nice Mother’s Day celebration for sure. I have to take my taxes in this Wednesday. The last five years I have just dropped the info off and go and pick it up later when done. I used to go mid-February but my RBC documents were amended last year on March 15th so he suggested waiting until after the 15th and checking online to see if there were new documents. A bit of a pain. P.S. – I went to the forest area at Elizabeth Park yesterday. It was so-so and trails are not marked, which was fine, but they were very muddy. Saw no deer, no critters at all, so a little disappointed, but had a lovely walk around Elizabeth Park nonetheless. Looked for wildflowers, but nothing yet – April perhaps.

    1. There’s nothing much blooming or leafing out around here until April, either. March feels like a long pause between winter and spring, but usually we have the maple sugaring season to make the month wonderful. In fact this weekend is Connecticut’s Maple Weekend but I’m not sure I want to visit a sugarhouse without being fully vaccinated. The smell in the air is wonderful though, if you get close enough! I hope your next visit to the forest area at Elizabeth Park will be more rewarding!

      1. Yes, everything is dull and blah in the month of March. I hope we don’t see white in the landscape, but it is not unheard of here and probably the same in Connecticut. I have not been to see the trees tapped since I went with my Brownie troop back in Canada (around ’64 or ’65). One of the Metroparks has an interpretive group this weekend … I would like to see it, but not now … maybe next year. I hope the next trip to Elizabeth Park to the “forest” will be better too – leaves all seem to come out the same time and will make the trip a little more colorful at least.

        1. You were a Brownie, too? 🙂 I am still pondering a trip to the sugarhouse on Saturday. The website says masks are required and social distancing is in force… I’m so torn but I don’t want to blow it when we’re so close to the finish line… Maybe we’ll drive up there and see what it looks like. We don’t have to get out of the car if it looks dicey… I could stand outside and get a picture and forget about going inside to buy any bottles of syrup… So many decisions to grapple with!

          1. Yes, I loved being a Brownie Barbara and then we moved to the States and the Brownie troops were not taking anyone new and they said wait until Fall when school starts and try for Girl Scouts. Couldn’t get in there either. My mother said she would volunteer for something to get my foot in the door, but nothing. So I joined Pioneer Girls (like Campfire Girls) which was through her Baptist Church. Same concept with camaraderie, events, field trips, badges and it was nice. I’m like you – if I didn’t look today to see what time the tour was and it is 10:00 a.m. I figured I could hang back, but not join the group, just watch from afar, then told myself to wait until next year. We have a gorgeous weekend coming. I had these decisions too. I’ve not gotten any shot yet but am finally eligible this Monday.

          2. I didn’t realize there were limits on Brownie troop size. That’s too bad you couldn’t find a new troop when you moved the states. I went on to Girl Scouts and don’t remember much of it, except camp in the summer in the northwest hills of Connecticut, near the Appalachian Trail. That was always fun except for swimming lessons. One year my sister was in the horse riding unit and I was in the outpost unit away from the main camp and cafeteria. We really roughed it out for the two week session, cooking our meals over the campfire. And I got out of swimming lessons. 😉 My mother also signed me up for 4-H Club and they had a summer camp, too, but it wasn’t as much fun. I hope you’ll be getting your shot soon! I get my second Pfizer shot on Friday.

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