As a child one of the "too many" questions that I asked was, "What is that stuff all over the rocks?" Nobody in our family knew. " Maybe some kind of moss," they ventured. I didn't really get an answer until I met my nature-knowledgeable husband at age 21 and we began to do some hiking and nature walks together. It was he who taught me the childish doggeral that has helped me remember the name:
"Alice Algae and Freddie Fungus took a lichen to each other."
Now I always look for lichens and appreciate the beautiful display of impressionistic color created by the union of algae and fungi working together as "rock eaters." We even have a wonderful 800-page book with 900 photos of different types of Lichens of North America.
After almost three weeks of post-trip overwhelm, I've finally surfaced to begin blogging again. Needing a nature-fix, on Friday we hiked for four hours through my favorite Denver mountain park, Red Rocks. While the park houses the famed amphitheater where most Denverites have attended a concert, it also offers a system of trails through a geological unconformity where 300-million-year-old rocks are juxtaposed against rocks 1700 million years old. While I appreciate that a geologist can love "old rocks," I mostly love this park for its sharp energy and swirls of red color.