The word cemetery has its roots in the Greek, meaning ‘sleeping place.’ In Cow Bay, this place is the Bowes Cemetery located just off Cow Bay Road.
The ones on the sign include usnea hirta, also known as Old Man’s Beard. The lichens on the headstones are particularly bright in colour. This provides an especially striking contrast on the dark stones.
Yellow lichens contain usnic acid. Some German scientists have researched the site preferences of different types of lichens and concluded that the yellow varieties are most likely to prefer sub-strata that is also more acidic.
Jessica at Jessica’s Nature Blog has photographed several bright varieties of lichens in her neck of the woods in the UK. When I first saw them, I wondered why these brighter varieties were less common here in Cow Bay. Perhaps the sub-strata is more acidic in her area.
Regardless of the science behind their preferences, these lichens add their own distinct beauty to this special sleeping place overlooking the ocean.
A grave is braced not just by a tombstone but by angels as well.
For more information on the Bowes Cemetery in Cow Bay, see This Life of Mortal Breath.