cover of Lichens and Haiku by Daly Walker

Forward of Lichens and Haiku:

These photographs of lichens and their first cousins, mushrooms, were taken on solo hikes on the wooded trails of Mt. Tom near Woodstock, Vermont and deep into the Quechee gorge during the summer of 2018. The American Haiku poetry that these tiny organisms inspired was written in the autumn that followed.

Aristotle said, “In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” Lichens are no exception to the Greek philosopher’s dictum. Small and seemingly insignificant, these organism are ubiquitous, forming eight percent of the vegetation of the world’s terrestrial surface. Once called by the Linnaeus, the founder of taxonomy, the “poor trash of vegetation,” Lichens should serve as a template for civilization because they are the essence of symbiosis. They are formed by a partnership between fungi, algae, and a cyanobacteria. Their life is dependent on mutual cooperation and interaction between these components just as a civil society is dependent on the cooperative effort of its citizens.

Like many living species that inhabit the earth, lichens are unappreciated unless closely observed and understood. It is my hope that this modest book will allow those who view it, particularly my grandchildren, to recognize the beauty of lichens and appreciate their place in a world where all creatures are interconnected and matter.

Daly Walker