Lichen Enthusiast

Every time I read Sy Montgomery’s words, whether in her books or on her social media accounts, I fall in love with some new piece of nature. This time it is: lichen.

Recently, I read that she referred to an expert and professor as a “lichen enthusiast.” The title tickles me. Immediately I, too, want to be known as a lichen enthusiast, a champion of the unnoticed, a proponent of small and useful.

Maybe you already knew that this is lichen:

lichen decorating tree bark

I have passed it and admired its shades of green, blue, and yellow many times. But I did not know I was admiring lichen. According to Montgomery, it is often mistaken for tree moss, but it is actually not a moss at all. It is made up of both fungus and algae and has a very benign relationship with the trees it graces.

This makes me wonder what else I might be seeing every day without really seeing. Of what else might I become an enthusiast?

One day, after a rain, I became a fallen leaf enthusiast.

colorful leaves on wet pavement

Another day, when the sun was an enormous orange ball at the end of the block, I quickly became a sunset enthusiast.

the orange ball of sun in the distance appeared so much larger in person

Most days, I am a bee enthusiast, though I prefer not to study them in large groups.

a bee hard at work on goldenrod

Often, I am an unidentified berry enthusiast.

berries against blue sky

Today, I was a shadows on fences enthusaist.

shadows of leaves along the fence

Montgomery reminds me not only to notice and be curious, but to allow myself to be easily enthused by the simple joys of our natural world.

7 thoughts on “Lichen Enthusiast

  1. What a beautiful way to think and notice in the world. I am enamored with this idea of discovering what I might be an enthusiast of. On more than one nature walk I have heard a ranger point out lichen (usually on granite rock) with this quip, “ This is what happens when algae and fungus take a lichen to each other.”


  2. So much to see in the everyday around us. I think I will add the title of enthusiast to myself too. I agree with Dianne, I am an enthusiast of your words and pictures. Shadows are some of my favorite images.


  3. I love this idea and want to be an enthusiast too! You make me wonder what other beauties I’m missing. Thank you for writing this!


  4. So lovely. I loved your photos and your words.

    And this is wonderful…”Montgomery reminds me not only to notice and be curious, but to allow myself to be easily enthused by the simple joys of our natural world.”


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