Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Beautiful Words For a Wednesday

We received an email the other day from CCorax, who we've known through blogging for five years now. This is a cherished, ongoing friendship of the heart and mind. She said that she had been reading What The Stones Remember by Patrick Lane, and it made her think of us. Can there be a more beautiful passage about the smallest and most overlooked aspects of life than this one that she sent? To think that these words reminded her of us made us feel utterly grateful and humble.

"I find myself on my hands and knees crawling around naming the different mosses in my garden. Their colors are an endless variation on yellow and green with a bit of gray or red thrown in here or there, a dark blush of blue or black at the base of their leaves. Under the canopy of cedars and Douglas firs the ground of much of my garden is dark and acidic, perfect for coastal lichens and mosses. I love their names: awned haircap, juniper haircap, cranesbill, tall-clustered thread, Menzies' red-mouthed minim, ribbed bog, lover's, false-polytrichum, Menzies' neckera, golden short-capsuled, Oregon beaked, lanky, step, twisted ulota, hairy screw, bottle, red roof, wet rock, black-tufted rock.

"I might as well search out the lichens too: bull's-eye, cladonia scales, bark barnacle, lungwort, lettuce lung, frog pelt, pimpled kidney, orange pincushion, questionable rock-frog, tattered rag, beaded bone, forking bone, tickertape bone, waxpaper, antlered perfume, devil's matchstick, false pixie cup, blood-spattered beard, and common witch's hair. Nineteen lichens and as many mosses. There are probably others if I search diligently.

"What wonderful names are blood-spattered beard, and common witch's hair. How much more delightful than the tiresome nomenclature of Latin taxonomy, necessary as it is for scientific identification. Ideas of order, yes, but not a feeling among them. Questionable rock-frog is far more interesting to me than /Xanthoparmelia cumberlandia/. These plants live everywhere in the garden, innocuous and largely unnoticed, but everywhere I look, there is another one sharing a bit of rotting wood, a shaded spot beneath a fern. The twenty-year-old shakes on the roof of the old child's playhouse I use for storing kindling and empty planters have seven mosses and five different lichens growing on their gray wood."

The above photo was taken on Monday from the upstairs deck at the house we have been waiting to buy for months. Maybe you can see why we want to live here. There is so much life to be discovered: lichen, mushrooms, and moss; bears, coyotes, and mountain lions. We know; it's why we have persisted.


  1. Beautiful words and no one more deserving! I do so hope that house is soon yours. Love the photo and, yes, I can see why you have worked so hard to get it! Hope this week there will be good news!


  2. nice nice nice!

    nice friend, nice words, nice photo.

    keeping my fingers crossed for your house.

  3. Lovely words for a lovely place.

  4. If the land had a say in who owned it, it would not hesitate a moment to claim you. Screw the bank! Let the Earth choose her caretakers.

    The view from the deck is very beautiful. With all my heart, I want to be reading about the garden you'll be putting in this spring.

    I'd recommend the book for the astounding beauty of Lane's prose, but with this warning: He talks about his life from childhood on, and he grew up in a rural community at a time when violence within families was studiously ignored by neighbors, no matter how extreme. He mentions the acts of violence, though eschews (so far as I've read, at least) any in-depth descriptions.

  5. What a marvelous post! This is the season of water and the exquisite, radiant time of these beautiful living things. Every morning on the trail I walk in awe, just observing and watching.

  6. Lovely photo, lovely prose about very tiny plants. It made me think of Lew Welch's poem, "Springtime in the Rockies, Lichen." I'm so happy that you have found a place worth waiting for...

  7. My heart sang when I saw that view. Hope this is the place you can call your home.

    Thank you for the link to What The Stones Remember. What I read there was deeply moving. That could have been Richard's experience.

    Muchas gracias to C. Corax bringing that book to our attention.

  8. I'm rediscovering a reverence for nature lately, not just life, but rock and mineral and snow and earth. Hope you can set up shop with the home soon!

  9. I can see you two on that land....don't you think it will be yours? It's just bank bullshit right now, but it WILL be yours!

  10. i agree with c.corax...let the Earth choose her caretakers...and if it isn't this place the right one is coming.. it may not fit our pictures or expectations