Friday, March 28, 2008

Cave Plants

Last week my wife and I were on spring break. We decided we could make it to Washington D.C. for a couple of days. We stayed right across from the Woodley Park Red-Line Metro station. Have you been in Washington's subway system? If you are rather used to NYC's subway, Washington's will blow you away. I have only been on it a few times in my life, but I saw it with open eyes this time around.

First of all, we descended on an escalator that seemed to be 200 feet long. Then we descended again on another about 1/3 as long as the first. By the time we were in the "tube", it was hard for me to estimate how deep under the street we were. It is not like in NYC, where the grate above your head leads to the sidewalk above.

These subways are CLEAN and somehow appear futuristic, way more than the Tokyo subways I rode on a few years earlier (they were even cleaner). It must be the concrete half-pipe the station is in. Adapted with sound deadening panels and rather dimly lit, it is an unusual "subway" experience.

One morning on our way to downtown DC, I noticed a green color across the tracks. It was near the lights that run the length of the tube along the tracks. Closer inspection revealed what I believe is a moss and maybe a fern. This discovery was amazing and quite beautiful. As we traveled the subway that day, I looked out the window at every station that had a central platform and, yep, there were the same plants growing out of the concrete, near the lights.

It was too dark to photograph well with my snapshot camera. Afterward we speculated on how they came to grow down there. Spores blew in on the draft or spores and seeds in the soil during construction -these are our ideas. Their must be enough moisture in the air or working its way through the concrete to support them. Of course, the lighting provides the energy.

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