Monday, 4 June 2012

Sphagnum walk

To mark the end of this project and thank the various people who have been involved I organised a walk where we looked at different mosses and sphagna, swapped stories and facts about sphagna and Sphagnum skyense in particular.

Looking closer with a hand lens

Maolios Caimbeul read us his poem about a rock that we passed on our path.....

A Stone by the Way

Not gneiss but a great lump of basalt
which fell thousands of years ago
from Grianan nam Maighdean and down Leathad na Caillich,
and now lies by the edge of the path above Loch Hasco
scrubbed by the elements’ untold years.
Like something living, bright and shining,
covered by a multi-coloured film of life,
brown and yellow and red moss,
and algae of all kinds gripping you like a skin.
And though we all know you’re dead,
of the dust of the earth, you support what’s alive,
the film of life that surrounds you,
and draw me to you like a magnet
every day I pass, renewing the whims of memory
that come with age, a symbol and sign
by the way, inspiring thought and thoughts
all like a transitory layer of moss
on the surface of stone,
a stone anciently from the stars
and which will long outlast us
carrying the colour of life.

Clach ris a’ cheum

Chan e gneis a th’ annad ach cnap mòr basalt
a thuit na mìltean bhliadhnaichean air ais
bho Ghrianan nam Maighdein ’s sìos Leathad na Caillich,
thu nis nad laighe ri oir a’ cheum os cionn Loch Hàsco
air do sguabadh le bliadhnaichean nan sian.
Thu mar nì beò soilleir, soillseach,
le lìon bheatha ioma-dhathte gad chòmhdach,
còinneach dhonn is bhuidhe is dhearg,
is algae de gach seòrsa cho dlùth riut ri craiceann.
S ged tha fhios againn uile gu bheil thu marbh,
s de dhust na talmhainn, tha thu nad thaic dhan nì tha beò,
dhan lìonraidh bheatha tha gad chuairteachadh,
s thu gam tharraing thugad gach latha thèid mi seachad ort
mar mhagnait, ag ùrachadh magaidean na cuimhne
a thig leis an aois, nad shamhla ’s nad shoidhne
ris an t-slighe, ’s a’ brosnachadh smaoin is smaointean,
a tha mar sgannan còinnich diombuam
air uachdar cloiche, a’ chlach a thàinig o chian
às nan reul, ’s a mhaireas fada às ar dèidh
a’ giùlan fiamh na beatha. 

Sphagnum skyense
With the help of Nick Hodgetts, a bryologist (botanist specialising in mosses and ferns) we found some Sphagnum skyense in a new location for him. This sphagna was found in 1987 on Skye, hence the name, by the Norwegian Kjell Flatberg. We discussed the fact that nothing eats this plant yet it is home to many specific flora and fauna, and that it was alive at the same time as the dinosaurs were roaming Staffin and leaving their footprints on the shore.

 Amidst sun, hail and snow we had a picnic - the 34 buns representing the number of different species of sphagna in Scotland and the tablecloth had images of Sphagnum skyense printed on it using peat.