November 20, 2009
A Walk in the Woods: Groton State Forest
Even though I live just a few miles from the large Groton State Forest, it wasn't until this past summer that I took a walk on one of the trails there. It was a short "nature trail" and wound past remarkable boulders, enormous glacial erratics. These small-cabin-sized rocks were amazing to see, and they were topped by a mass of ferns, looking like an unkempt hairdo. What a sight!
The weather had been especially beautiful this week, so a couple of days ago I went back for a walk on that trail with a friend. I was especially interested in seeing mosses and lichens because they've been so vivid lately. My friend told me that at this time of year, with leaves off the trees, there's more sunlight getting through to these tiny plants, so they are actively growing. The contrast with the dull browns of dried fallen leaves makes the living green look even brighter.
A surprise to me was how many of the mosses were different from the ones I see in the woods around my house; there are slight variations in habitat from place to place. The two mosses above mimic the look of trees, Ground Pine, and Running Cedar.
This was a very unusual lichen, looking like scraps of burnt paper, growing on the granite boulders. It may have a more greenish hue earlier in its lifespan. It's a kind of leaf-like lichen––foliose––but I couldn't find the exact name.
The large variety of tiny mosses and lichens invite close scrutiny; there's sheer pleasure in seeing the colors, from subtle variations of greens to contrasts of red and green. The small bit of growth on a fallen log becomes a vast landscape, a place of imagining.