Thursday, August 16, 2012

Gathering Moss Wrap-Up by Moderator Roxanne Bogart

Discussion topic:  Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses by Robin Wall Kimmerer

It seemed fitting to end with a beautiful wrap-up quote from the book:

 "The patterns of reciprocity by which mosses bind together a forest community offer us a vision of what could be. They take only the little they need and give back in abundance. Their presence supports the lives of rivers and clouds, trees, birds, algae, and salamanders, while ours puts them at risk. Human-designed systems are a far cry from this ongoing creation of ecosystem health, taking without giving back. Clearcuts may meet short-term desires of one species, but at the sacrifice of the equally legitimate needs of mosses and murrelets, salmon and spruce. I hold tight to the vision that someday soon we will find the courage of self-restraint, the humility to live like mosses. On that day, when we rise to give thanks to the forest, we may hear the echo in return, the forest giving thanks to the people."

Credit: Jon Sullivan
I hope that all the WILD READERs out there enjoyed Gathering Moss and were moved by Dr. Kimmerer's inspiring prose and insights into all that mosses have to teach us.

Thanks to the WILD READ Team - Anne Post at the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) and Nancy Pollot from the FWS Pacific Northwest regional office -  for this opportunity to take part in WILD READ.

Best regards,

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Eloquent Analogies by Moderator Roxanne Bogart

Discussion topic: Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Roanne Bogart, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Biologist
Dr. Kimmerer is a master of analogy, which she uses so skillfully in her story-telling of the reproductive strategies of mosses. Two of my favorite chapters in Gathering Moss are those entitled "Choice" and "A Landscape of Chance," where she shares her process of discovering the varying tactics of moss reproduction, and compares them so eloquently to the large-scale forest ecosystem processes of disturbance, colonization, competition, dispersal, and succession happening around them -- and even to human decision-making and the life choices of her neighbor, Paulie.

Tetraphis pellucida or Pellucid Four-Tooth Moss - Credit: National Park Service

"Paradoxically, those species adapted to a specialized lifestyle come and go, but Tetraphis persists by keeping its options open and maintaining its freedom of choice...Maybe it's the same with our old farm, persisting now for almost two centuries. The old bull has been replaced by the AI man, and the cistern by a well. But the world is still unpredictable and still we survive by the grace of chance and the strength of our choices."

Before delving into the investigation of the difference between the two moss species, Tetraphis pellucida and Dicranum flagellare, she writes,
"This decaying log is a stage, and the scenes take place in the gaps, where the colonists act out their dramas."
She is both amazed and reassured when, in the end, she discovers the same ecological processes happening for these two mosses as for the aspen and yellow birch that rise above them. She writes,
"There is a home for everything, the puzzle piece slips into place, each part essential to the whole. The same cycle of disturbance and regeneration, the same story of resilience, is played out at a minute scale, a tale of the interwoven fates of mosses, fungi, and the footfalls of chipmunks."
Dicranum flagellare or Whip Fork Moss - Credit:Coastal Maine Botanical Garden
I was thrilled to learn of the similarities of forest and moss dynamics. How fascinating!

Please share some of your favorite topics and passages from Gathering Moss .