What a Lichenist He Must Be!

Thoreau never had to journey via freeway, zipping place to place at seventy miles per hour. This thought crosses my mind today, while on our way to visit friends in a western suburb of Minneapolis, an eighty-five mile round trip from our home in Northfield. As a result of traveling and visiting, outdoor time was limited to an afternoon dog walk, joined by our friends and their dogs.

Unfortunately, it was one of those bare midwinter days when the world seems worn through and bereft of anything vibrant, reduced almost entirely to inanimate elements. And in the suburbs where we walked today those elements consisted of asphalt streets white and dusty from road salt, spills and spatters of coarse-grained sidewalk salt, silent slips of ice, snow, inanimate houses, dormant trees, and cars, lots of cars. Luckily, the company was good and the dogs were happy.

During our walk we get a glimpse of a woodpecker high in a tree. Then for a while a few of us did our best to name the winter trees along the way. At one point we stopped to examine several dead branches arching above the sidewalk, the undersides of the branches encrusted with Polypore fungi. Near the end of our walk a noisy throng of House Sparrows craftily flew and hopped inside the thicket of a yardside hedge.

That distant glimpse of a woodpecker would be as close as I'd come to matching Thoreau's observation for this same date:

"Stood within a rod of a downy woodpecker on an apple tree. How curious and exciting the blood-red spot on its hindhead! I ask why it is there, but no answer is rendered by these snow-clad fields. It is so close to the bark I do not see its feet. It looks behind as if it had on a black cassock open behind and showing a white undergarment between the shoulders and down the back. It is briskly and incessantly tapping all round the dead limbs, but rarely twice in a place, as if to sound the tree and so see if it has any worm in it, or perchance to start them. How much he deals with the bark of trees, all his life long tapping and inspecting it! He it is that scatters those fragments of bark and lichens about on the snow at the base of trees. What a lichenist he must be! Or rather, perhaps it is fungi makes his favorite study, for he deals most with dead limbs. How briskly he glides up or drops himself down a limb, creeping round and round, and hopping from limb to limb, and now flitting with a rippling sound of his wings to another tree!" – Henry David Thoreau, Journals (Sunday, January 8, 1854)

Publicado por scottking scottking, 09 de janeiro de 2017, 05:15 AM

Observações

Fotos / Sons

Observador

scottking

Data

Janeiro 8, 2017 02:53 PM CST

Descrição

Milk-white Toothed Polypore
St Louis Park, Minnesota

Fotos / Sons

What

Choupo-Americano (Populus deltoides)

Observador

scottking

Data

Janeiro 8, 2017 03:31 PM CST

Descrição

Plains Cottonwood
St Louis Park, Minnesota

Fotos / Sons

What

Pardal-Dos-Telhados (Passer domesticus)

Observador

scottking

Data

Janeiro 8, 2017 03:03 PM CST

Descrição

House Sparrow
St Louis Park, Minnesota

Comentários

Beautiful, Scott, happy new year.

Publicado por muir mais de 5 anos antes (Sinalizar)

Thanks, Matt. Happy new year to you as well.

Publicado por scottking mais de 5 anos antes (Sinalizar)

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