When Dave of Via Negativa announced International Rock Flipping Day, September 2, 2007, I was a little reluctant to join in. I devote much of my biological attention to leaf litter and the forest understory, but rocks are my least favorite thing to look under. I find much more interesting stuff under decomposing tree parts, broken concrete, and organic detritus, and our recent dry weather has driven the soft damp-loving litterbugs off Droop Mountain's ridgetops. I decided to interpret the mandate to flip as beatnik talk. This is a crazy rock, man. Flip city.
Lest you think that spiral is my work, take a closer look. It's actually a weathered fossil, reminding us that Droop Mountain used to be an undersea environment. I could really flip over this rock. Man.
All the small mammals like flat rocks. They're a great place to leave messages, what mammalogists tactfully call scats. This raccoon has eaten a lot of beetles and crickets, and, I believe, at least one little crawdad, demonstrating rock-flipping credentials of his own.
The rock-flipping planning committee has focused on "creatures" under rocks, but it occurs to me that there is also subterranean flora. I found growing mycelia under most of the rocks I turned over, even though fungal fruiting bodies have been scarce this year.
At last--something with a head! Jerusalem crickets are not my favorite insects. One semester in college, I lived in a basement overrun with the smelly things. They got into my laundry basket and ate big holes in my clothes, which I couldn't afford to replace. One good thing about our recent dry, hot weather--the Jerusalem crickets that usually appear under the bathroom sink have taken to the woods seeking cooler, moister quarters.
I'll update with a list of links to other rock-flipping blog events later.