On a sunny day last week, this little patch of moss at the base of one of my crabapples in the parking strip caught my eye. I don’t think I’d ever seen it do this before, although maybe it does every year and I just hadn’t noticed before.
Oh man, too bad I didn’t have a macro lens like Kim at the Inadvertent Farmer! What even are those little sticky-uppy things? Sprouts? Spores? No, spores would be underground. Or would they? Any moss experts out there, please enlighten. I have read that moss doesn’t get any nutrients from the soil since it has no roots. Are those sprouts some kind of air-nutrient-harvesting mechanism? Or are they just walking sticks for garden elves?
In the Northwest, moss is usually considered an enemy (especially by people with shaded lawns) and attacked in an attempt to eradicate it. Conversely, there are those who adore moss and there is even an entire industry devoted to supplying “moss gardens.” To quote from this site, “moss… seems to prefer poor quality soils with low nutrient levels.” Hm, I guess that would adequately describe my parking strip! It’s probably time for another layer or three of mulch…
My daughter got some of her baby books out recently, including a three-volume set called “Voyage to the Bunny Planet” by the genius author/illustrator Rosemary Wells. In each of the books, a young rabbit has had a terrible day and needs an escape. In one volume, “The Moss Pillows,” young Robert endures an awful visit to relatives (including being at the bottom of a pig-pile of violent cousins and having to eat cold liver chili for dinner) and ends up cowering in the bathroom. Magical Bunny Queen Janet comes to spirit him away to the day that “might have been.” He enters a magical realm where
“Deep in a pocket of emerald moss,
I lie where the leaves fall free.
My pillow is soft as milkweed
And as green as a tropical sea.”
Couldn’t we all do with such an escape at times? I know I could! I think my daughter had had a bad day at school and she sought out these books as comfort, even though she can’t quite read on her own yet. I hope that’s only the beginning for her of many happy years of taking temporary solace in imaginary worlds when the real one isn’t going so well.
My current yard has no lawn, so I like the few patches of fuzzy green moss (and their occasional punk-rock hairdos) that have appeared here and there. I actually didn’t even mind it in my previous garden’s lawn, since it seemed a lot happier there than the grass, didn’t need water to stay green, and was actually softer than grass for walking barefoot.
Do you have a relationship with moss? Love? Hate? Some combination of the two?