Monday, September 17, 2012

The Many Faces of Parmelia

This is the last of my fun summer cottage blog posts I swear it. 

I've been going to the cottage since I was born.  Literally, I was born in June in Northern Quebec and as soon as Mom could, she was boating in to the cottage to show me to my Mimi.  My Mom says that they docked the boat taxi and the next thing she knew Mimi was running up the hill with me in her arms so she could get me naked.

My Mimi loved herself some baby munching and legend has it that I was also a good slow cooked little piece of pastry myself.

I digress, basically I have been coming to this place my entire life and somehow it has always fit the time of my life perfectly.  Every year it has something new and perfect for me to take advantage of.  As a mother this became a place where I found my footing managing both girls mostly by myself.  It is an empowering thing.

Fenner and I took our friend Stephanie on one of our standard walks up the back of a big chunk of Canadian Shield called Echo Rock during one of her visits this summer.  There is a small forest that Fenner can explore pretty safely and we end up on the top of the Rock from behind it.
Anyway, turns out that Echo Rock is a massive lichen house.  I have never noticed it before but once Steph pointed out the Umbilicaria Mammulata it was impossible to unsee.

We started to see different kinds of lichen all over the rock and it wasn't long before we were finding it on trees, paths, and recently on a stick we found outside our local corner store.

Fenner, Marlowe and I had already been collecting dried moss, oak leaves and pine needles for some projects we have on the go but this lichen thing BLEW MY MIND.

Because, people, you can dye wool with it.

And so began Lichen fest 2012.  We found Parmelia on sticks.
 Here's the close up of the stick.

Parmelia of a different kind
Fenner found it on trees outside of my folks' cottage.

Lichens are bat shit crazy cool - they are a cross between fungus and algae which means they are weird. I picked up a book to start learning a bit more about it. I've started jarring the Umbilicaria and am researching how to best use the parmelia to dye.
Parmelia Sulcata
The Parmelia Sulcata  which was ubiquitous on the rocks was almost impossible to harvest until I was up on the rock after about 4 days of hard rain after which the lichens actually bloomed with small purple cups.
Parmelia Saxatalis
Fenner was smitten with some different tiny cups and we referred to them as fairy cups.  Turns out that this lichen is actually called Fairy Cup Lichen.

Actually called Fairy Cup Lichen!

It takes years and years to grow so we were careful to only harvest some lichen from large colonies.

Umbilicaria Mammulata

Some of the lichen brings Horton Hears a Who to mind because they blend in with the environment so well.
British Soldier Lichen
Tonight I started some canning of a different kind.  The ammonia and Mammulata kind of canning.

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