Deer Moss

Albemarle County, Virginia ~ October 28, 2009


More accurately, Deer Lichen. A northern variety grows on the tundra, called Reindeer or Caribou Moss. Things with antlers like to eat it. It’s rich in carbs – more than potatoes – but too tough and acidic for humans to eat directly. When the Inuit killed a caribou they could eat the partially digested contents of the stomach, which was mostly moss and lichen, and this was the only vegetable in the Inuit diet. In Scandinavian countries they make a distilled spirit with it called Akavit. The Gaelic term for the same elixir became whisky.

It was a chilly, wet morning. I stopped on a little rise that overlooked a valley with a stream running through it. The sun was just coming up, and mist wandered around the fields in the low spots, tangled up in fences, reaching for the woods. The soil is stony and wasted at the tops of hills here. Only the stubborn stuff stays. In the perpetual shade of a pine forest, there at the northern edge, the ground was covered with it.

Been thinking that from time to time I’ll rescue some favorite photos from the archive. I often post so many at once that the good ones get lost in the deluge. Other times, I’ve just been too busy to post them at all, and forget to go back to them.


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