Holidays …… finally!

Let me bore you a little bit with my holidays, before I go back to work again.
Some people think I never take a holiday, some people think my whole life is a holiday. The truth is somewhere in between. This time I am spending time in the Dolomites, the North-Italian mountain range bordering Switzerland and Austria. Beautiful environment, sharp mountains and lots of quiet forests to hike through.

I will focus on two little peculiarities of mine that I like to collect during the hikes, shown in this picture below: tree moss and wild strawberries.

Oakmoss and wild strawberries
Oakmoss and wild strawberries

Tree moss often called oak moss or lichen (Latin: Evernia prunastri) is a very strange organism. Its hangs down from tree with lack of vitality, but it does not kill the tree. I am sure you have seen it before, without giving it much thought. But two things are interesting:

1. it has very good antibiotic qualities probably due to usnic acid. It has e.g. been used for wound dressing for thousands of years. And that triggered a question: while humans have to design new synthetic or semi-synthetic antibiotics all the time because the bacteria become resistant to the new antibiotics, plants have been using the same good old antibiotics for self-defense for millennia without changed the composition. Why do bacteria attacking humans get resistant will bacteria attacking plants do not? We know this because if the bacteria attacking plants would behave become resistant to the plant’s antibiotics, these plants would have gone extinct a long time ago. And since they are still here, it is the proof that their antibiotics are still able to fight off the threatening bacteria. But maybe I am wrong.

2. I use this lichen myself to distill it and produce a fantastic fragrance out of it. This essential oil is also used in the perfume industry as a base note for perfumes, such as Mitsouko, Chanel No.19, Grey Flannel, Paco Rabanne, Eau Savage, or Paloma Picasso. After distilling it, the whole house smells like an old growth forest after the rain.

Distilling Oak moss
Distilling Oak moss

Forget about the wild strawberries I have been writing about them before.
But here is a poem by Shel Silverstein, about wild strawberries, that might make you think about our use of words , the word WILD this time. I hope you like poetry:

“Are wild strawberries really wild? Will they scratch an adult, will they snap at a child? Should you pet them, or let them run free where they roam? Could they ever relax in a steam-heated home? Can they be trained to not growl at the guests? Will a litterbox work or would they make a mess?
Can we make them a Cowberry, herding the cows, or maybe a Muleberry pulling the plows, or maybe a Huntberry chasing the grouse, or maybe a Watchberry guarding the house, and though they may curl up at your feet oh so sweetly can you ever feel that you trust them completely?
Or should we make a pet out of something less scary, like the Domestic Prune or the Imported Cherry, Anyhow, you’ve been warned and I will not be blamed if your Wild Strawberries cannot be tamed.”

Shel Silverstein from his wonderful book “Where the sidewalk ends.”

I hope your holidays were or are going to be as good as mine.


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