Hats off and foaming brews

Once again, children are very interested in the foam that is associated with the thrombolites. As on other days, a common theory is that the thrombolites are having a bubble bath, but more on that later.

What do thrombolites regard as waste? What causes the bubbles, are they waste-full?

A minor gesture (Manning 2016) comes from relating to the hats.

“In the context of research-creation, the question is how a practice is
capable of opening up the field such that minor gestures can emerge, this
despite the value placed on the more recognizable and predictable grand
gestures” (Manning 2016, 66)

Caps seem to proliferate closer to the shore and in the reeds; some staying, fading and slowly sinking into the mud, others visiting for a short time before being retrieved by passersby or Steve from PHCC.

This purple cap was a fleeting visitor dropping into see the blue cap of earlier posts before being plucked by another tourist and taken away on more adventures. Neither the cap or its new handler left much visible trace.

Crowned and brimmed hats sail off the end of the boardwalk and come to rest amongst the thrombolites.

How do thrombolites relate to our discards? Are our discarded hats wasted?

We wonder how long these hats have been here, now that we have noticed them (four altogether at last count)? They are of a similar size, colour, shape and texture to the thrombolites and pass themselves off as such without careful observation.

One of the children noticed the hats and said, “the hats are trying to look like thrombolites!” And one child drew a thromoblitehat! 


Can a hat become a thrombolite? Will the microbial mats that form them colonise the hat, petrifying the cloth to form another layer and build another structure? Have any of the other thrombolites already grown from hats? How else do the thrombolites and hats relate?

Can we make a thrombolite from a hat? Spinning a yarn about a hat becoming a thrombolite might be a more appropriate and sustainable minor gesture. A research-creation using the skills and materials we have with us and entangling them amidst new thoughts bubbling up from the experience of an event. An event arising from spending time noticing as we relate to an emerging perception of place and listen to the children.

But back, now, to the foaming brew…

Bubbles and the similarity to bubble baths; some children have wanted to swim or wade amongst the thrombolites and the water looks warm. One child thought dropping something in the water and retrieving it was a good segue; another was caught by the seat of his pants by an agile father as the child tried to emulate the swans seen through the birding scopes set up by Bill this week.

Warm water – how do the thrombolites feel about warm water? Warm enough to swim in? Warm enough for a comfortable bubble bath? Warm enough to make that morning brew? Any of these may be a possibility if the globe continues to warm.

And what about the bubbles? What causes them? Are they harmful? Are they are product of non/human waste? Do the thrombolites like bubble baths? Are bubblebaths good for thrombolites?

The bubbles may form as a result of fertiliser and nutrient runoff from surrounding human activity? Perhaps the increasing salinity of the lake as it relates to the afternoon sea breeze stirs up the froth. Is the water alkaline like washing soda – that makes bubbles when you stir it up.

Tannins released from surrounding vegetation and finding its way into the lake causes the froth, someone else suggests – Hmmm, are tannins tree waste? Or do the ducks swimming stir up the water like a milkshake and form froth icebergs?

Maybe it is the soap and shampoo residue from all the hats?

Annamaria Weldon in The Lake’s Apprentice (2014, 45) mentions the prevailing winds heaping up the foam:

It is caused by organic processes, not a sign of detergent. However, concentrations in the nutrient levels of the lakes become more apparent in bunuru, because heat triggers algal activity (which is increased by the presence of nutrients).”

We are just about to move into the Noongar season bunuru (Feb-Mar) from birak (Dec-Jan). So the lake may become a warm, foaming brew! Is this a matter for concern? Should we care? What are the facts of the matter?


Manning, E. (2016). The minor gesture. Duke University Press.

Weldon, A. (2014). The Lake’s Apprentice. UWAP.