Saturday, April 10, 2010

Lichen it.

Saturday morning, sleep in.
Get up, putz around a little...
throw in a load of laundry and pick up the house a little. Now it's decision time: should I clean the bathrooms or should I take my boys for a little exploration hike on this beautiful spring day.

Hike wins.

The boys and I had a wonderful time on our hike. I planned this hike as an exploration type...lots of times Ralph and I have destination in mind over exploration. We like to get where we're going and really, the boys just want to look at every.little. thing they see on the ground, climb every rock, every tree they can. So for this hike I took a book of poetry, a camera and plants to have fun with photography. Joey brought a book too. Well, he doesn't really go anywhere without one these days. Nate brought his little notebook to sketch the nature around him, a favorite past time for him.

We walked about 100 yards into the canyon and found a nice spot to flop.

Upon my sister, Hazel's suggestion I decided to check out the lichen in the area. The boys and I made our lichen observations:
  • lichen is very colorful. It can be bright, bright in color. Also, it can be plain old black, brown or white
  • lichen has many textures. It all feels different. Some is as hard as the rock it's on, some soft enough to sleep on.
  • some lichens are flat like paint, some bumpy enough to pick up and carry it home
  • lichen seems to live well on rocks & trees both
  • lichen faces North, South, East and West. It lives in the shade and full sun.
I took a gazillion photos of lichen, I have a few to share. I've come home, now that I'm "seeing" lichen I'm finding it in the backyard too.

When we got home we did a little homework. We found that lichen:
  • is very pollution sensitive. Lichen is liken' clean air.
  • people used to use colorful lichen to dye wool.
  • at times people have eaten lichen or fed it to pets when times were tough and no other food was available. But some lichens are poisonous.
  • is created when a certain fungus meets up with alga. When the two meet, lichen grows. No alga, no fungus. It has been compared to a marriage relationship.
It's interesting little stuff, and it sure colors up our canyon. I have noticed that the colors brighten seasonally, so I'm sure we'll be watching it more closely from now on.

Otherwise, we also saw a couple of horses with their people riding in the canyon, a sly little lizard who hid in a crack until we got oh-so-quiet. The most fun was seeing a killdeer (Eli calls it a dead deer, or killed dear) which is a bird. She was nesting on the ground. When Juneau got close she flew away, looking wounded and low to the ground. The first time this happened I just called Juneau off her trail so he wouldn't injure her futher. The second time, I suddenly remembered about the bird that would fly off looking wounded in order to distract a predator from her nest. The boys and I poked around for a minute trying to spot a nest of eggs but then we just tip toed away hanging out the do-not-disturb sign lest we squash the eggies with one of our 12 feet.

All in all, it was a wonderful time. We enjoyed our exploratory time, and I love the we-finally-get-to-get-out-in-the-Central-Oregon-spring feeling. Horray!

Learn some interesting facts and take a short quiz to help you identify lichens here in Lichenland.


Jennifer in OR said...

We love lichen, too! I've also taken dozens and dozens of photos of this amazing "thing." Great photos!

Hazel said...

Wow! I'm so tickled that the lichens were a hit. You know, the Multnomah Falls area in the Gorge also has some rare lichens too. Our Audobon book has several which help in identification. And I learned something from your post too...thanks!

Karyn said...

LOVE Eli's hair!!!!!!!!!!