Last week I decided to explore an area I have never been before, a gravel pit behind a stand of cattails next to the railroad tracks. It turned out not to be a gravel pit at all, but a slag heap, probably from the days when steel was a booming local industry. Photos from the era show a steel mill with a sign in nine languages, mostly eastern European. These days only a few of the Polish are left in the neighborhood, and this huge pile of gravel the local kids use to zoom around on various motorized vehicles.

To make my excursions more interesting I like to go out with different objectives in mind. A few months ago, inspired by the moss arrangement I saw on a blog, and some links to scholar’s stones, I was looking for both moss and a scholar’s stone. I didn’t find them at the time, but on this walk I found both.

The top of the slag dump had a huge moss farm emerging from the melting snow.

I took a few pieces for my windowsill.

The first stone called to me from the path: a large lightweight black thing that looked like a miniature shiny mountain. It’s probably anthracite or some type of coal used for burning, or maybe steel production. The second stone came several hours later, on top of the slag heap: an unusually heavy stone with various colors of rust. Probably iron ore. A few feet away I completed the collection with a heavy porous stone that is probably slag, the product left over when the ore has been heated with coal and the iron extracted.

6 Responses to “Moss”

  1. A. J. P. Crown Says:

    Oh, what lovely moss, Nij! And beautiful rocks too. Those little round clumps look so great in the bowl. There’s no moss to be seen here, it’s all under the snow still. I don’t think I’ve ever seen slag before. My wife keeps saying she’s going to borrow a macro lens so I can take close ups of this kind of thing but she forgets (she’s kind of busy)–anyway, that’s my goal.

  2. Nijma Says:

    My camera has a macro setting–a little flower symbol in one of the menus. It might be worth googling your camera manual to see if it has something similar. But your closeup creatures look just fine–or do you just take the photo from a distance and have enough megapixels left over so that it blows up nicely.

    I found this same type of moss the other day by the railroad tracks, growing that startling green color on bare concrete. They remind me of tribbles.

  3. A. J. P. Crown Says:

    It’s the different green colors and the velvet and those red spikes I love. I’ve got lots of megapixels, the macro lens that Robin uses hasn’t got much depth of field, that’s one thing I like with it. Also I just want to try it out and see what you can get.

  4. Julia Says:

    I love moss and always try to take good pictures of it, but never succeed as you have done here (and I never thought of using it as an ornament)

  5. Nijma Says:

    Thanks, I’ll take credit for the photos, but the idea came from AJP’s wife. And m-l says if you neglect the moss and it turns brown, all you have to do is water it and it will spring back to life.

    BTW, the first time I watered it, all kinds of insects crawled out and I had to run and get the indoor spider-mite spray.

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