26 April 2018

A Microclimate Under The Tracks?

When I was in Rome last summer, I learned that during the centuries when the Colosseum was all but abandoned, so many species of vegetation grew in it that Domenico Panaroli cataloged them. 

According to some writers and chroniclers, all of those herbs and other plants created micro-climates within the Colosseum's walls.  I don't find that so difficult to believe:  Different parts felt hotter or cooler, depending on the sun, shade and wind, during my visit there.

My commute this morning got met to thinking about the possibility of Colosseum "microclimates".  For one thing, the lane I ride to the Randall's Island Connector winds underneath the tracks on which Acela trains shuttle between New York and Boston.  Those tracks run on a viaduct supported by stone arches that would not look out of place in Rome, or the ancient parts of many other cities in the Old World.

But, more important, I think I rode into a microclimate:

The remanants of yesterday's storm dripped, and rays of sunlight flickered, through the tracks above.  And I pedaled through the "rainbow" you see in the photo.  I didn't see another rainbow anywhere else, nor did any rain fall.  And the sky grew brighter as I neared the college.


  1. Yes, the flora of the Colosseum is remarkable. I have heard that more than 600 species have been identified. Some of these are (or were) found only in the Colosseum within Europe. There is conjecture that some of them were introduced in Roman Imperial times in the fur of African animals, lions and giraffes, that were brought to Rome for the fun and games that the Romans were addicted to.

    Did you make aquantance with the Colosseum cats?

  2. Leo--I remember reading (or hearing) that some of those species aren't found anywhere else in Europe. It makes sense that their seeds would have come in on animals from far-flung parts of the Empire.

    I saw two cats when I was there. I think most of them hid because there were so many people visiting. One of the cats rubbed my ankle and allowed me to stroke him/her. That surprised me; I figured that the cats were feral.

    I have a Colosseum cat on my dresser. It's s mini-bronze replica, of course, from the Colosseum's gift shop!

  3. Ocean Shores is replete with microclimates. We have much less exotic flora than the Colosseum, but we have rhododendrons to even things out.

  4. I would say that the Colosseum cats are neither tame nor feral. They are total opportunists, more or less feline con artists.

  5. Steve--I'll take the rhododendrons!

    Leo--I think most cats are opportunists and some of them see me as an easy "mark".