Some Adirondack Lichens

During a recent visit to the Adirondacks, I couldn’t help but admire the lichens.  These diminutive vegetative creatures (a mix of fungus and algae or cyanobacteria) thrive in the boreal forests that cloak the high peaks.  Why lichens?  Once you learn to focus in on very small scale, you discover a world of beauty and mystery.  This idea was expressed by 13th century Zen Master Dogen using the metaphor of the moon reflected in a drop of dew (“there are mountains hidden in hiddenness”) and 600 years later in the opening stanza of Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself:  “I lean and loafe at my ease, observing a spear of summer grass.”  Appreciate the small patterns of nature, and you will never suffer from a lack of beauty, which is why Henry David Thoreau wrote that the “lichenist fats where others starve….his provender never fails.”

With thanks to nature photographer John Franklin for helping me identify the species, here is a sampling of what I encountered:

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Some Adirondack Lichens