At the beginning you are advised to ignore those mosses growing on trees or stone for they ask something different
A moss should behave a certain way but doesn’t always
You realise that adjectives like ‘straight’ and ‘curved’ are not reliable, just a matter of perspective
Mosses have a very thin cuticle, are absorbent on all surfaces
You can observe a species with the naked eye, look more closely with a handlens or at
the level of cells through a microscope – ever deepening attention
Some mosses have a nerve
Their names are tongue twisters – all hail teachers of Latin!
Mosses lend themselves to metaphor – imaginative ways to describe and remember them (for example, overheard: Denis Healey’s eyebrows, teddy bears’ arms, Catherine wheels)
Desiccated moss can be brought back to life by immersing in liquid
Looking at mosses for a long time transports you to another world – one where scale is nothing if not elastic
The fascinations endless, the discoveries universe-expanding
Moss sometimes grows on exposed bones
When you look at a landscape and say there’s nothing there, there will be mosses
You will lose all track of time
Hard to know where to start trying to give an account of this week’s wonderful Mosses & Liverworts field study course, run by Northumberland Wildlife Trust and led by John O’Reilly. We were based at Knarsdale Village Hall near Alston and went out to sites at Lambley Viaduct and Williamston Nature Reserve. After two days we were able to identify around twenty or so common bryophyte species – out of the 800 mosses and 300 liverworts found in the UK. If flowers are often overlooked, bryophytes are seriously neglected. It was deeply satisfying taking the time to learn how to see them. I am already planning regular moss walks to make sure that I keep practising this new language.