Unexpected color

I have commented before on the importance of scale in observing and in developing an appreciation of nature. One end of this spectrum includes views which I believe most of us could conjure easily …  mountains, a coastline, a river, a grassland, or any of a number of larger bits of real estate. Consider for a moment life at the other end of our visual spectrum. We were walking a trail along the creek the other day and I was not pleased with the weather which was cold and gloomy; not good for taking photographs. As we walked I noticed shafts of sunlight which had penetrated the cloud-cover to illuminate the forest floor. I was reminded of Miss Marianne Dashwood’s words as I departed the path and crashed through the underbrush … There is some sun, let us chase it! There were a number of downed trees which had apparently been there for quite some time for they were covered with moss. This living encrustation was illuminated and glowed in the otherwise darkened wood. I managed to capture twelve images before the lights were extinguished. What do you see in the image below? I see fronds of the Delicate Fern Moss. I also see, toward the bottom of the image, lichen … an unusual symbiosis between a fungus and an alga. Life presents itself in a myriad of forms at a myriad of scales. If our naked eyes could visualize bacteria you would see that this surface was thick with them. If we could visualize the fungal hyphae growing within the bark they too would be lush and luxuriant, alive. I am fascinated by this issue of scale. I will leave you with links to two animations, one which entreats you to consider life at all scales [Simply click the link and hit start.] while the other invites you to consider life at the molecular scale [Scroll down and click the play button on the video entitled Cellular Visions: The Inner Life of a Cell.]. Enjoy both of these and realize that there is more to life than meets the eye.


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