Moss musings


For the last week or so the rain has been constant and at times very heavy.  Today during a short break in the rain I sat on my front steps, just staring at all of the wet leaves and the mass that forms the jungle in the front of my house.  Not a beautiful garden of tropical plants, but a mass of herbage that for the last few years, have been left on their own to survive.  Above me an old Quesnelia marmorata is wrestling with an unknown weed for the tree trunk they are both growing on .  There is a leaf from Johannesteijmannia magnifica trying to get an upper hand on some leather ferns. These are large bold plants, whose dead leaves fall to the pathway that I walk every day, and block the way to the greenhouse.

What captures my attention more, is a tiny moss found in my friend’s backyard that is only surviving in small fragments.  It must be fifteen years ago now that a little bit came home with me and was placed on the damp concrete by the front steps.  It was covered with an old aquarium that was inverted and promptly forgotten.  I still remember my delight when some months later the tank was removed and revealed a beautiful carpet of that particularly tiny moss.  Over the years it turned out that this moss is durable and withstands the trampling and the temporary droughts that come from living untended by the front steps.  I don’t even know what genus of moss this is and have never tried to find out. Only recently have I begun to refer to it as anything other than the small moss.  Now it is Halloween moss, which for most everyone else wouldn’t make sense.  I recently told Emily (the other half of this blog) that every year it made me quite sad to scrape the pathway leading up to my front steps (full of beautiful moss!) in preparation for the annual trick-or-treaters.  I do remember Emily laughing and later telling me that she thought I was a grump for thinking this way!

Recently, as this neighborhood ages, few come to my house on Halloween anymore, so I have been able to let my moss grow.  Now, even without the yearly scraping, only little pieces have held on.  The beautiful carpet is now replaced by a mixture of various mosses, mostly made up of Tortula, a moss ubiquitous with damp cement. Some other larger more vigorous growers are present also.  

It is becoming clearer all the time to me, that when a collection of plants is focused around their small size, how much more effort it takes to simply keep track of everything.  As it wouldn’t take much at all to have one disappear.  Maybe just a holiday as in this case!