Friday, June 14, 2013

On The Road to the Back of Beyond...

 There are places I remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain 

These Lennon/McCartney lyrics hit me every time I set out on the road to the Colorado Plateau, which is both a geologic classroom, and a sort of spiritual center of my Universe. The deceptively barren desert is full of life, and at the same time full of ghosts. Some parts are so familiar to me that I can feel the texture of the sandstone in my imagination, and other places, many places, are yet to be discovered.

Change has happened out on the plateau over the years. Former gravel roads are paved over, cities have grown, others have become smaller. Geological changes are happening too, the ever-present erosion and occasional rock falls, and other more subtle changes brought about by a decade of drought. Is the change permanent? I suspect it is.
The rocks and soil that form the framework on which all life thrives is passive. It has been witness to millions of years of change, and an ever-changing parade of life forms. The trail above was cut out of a separation plane on a sand dune that was trod on by reptiles and insects 200 million years ago. The sand grains were eroded from a mountain mass hundreds of millions of years older. We are brief visitors on this land before our atoms get scattered and recycled.

For the next two weeks I get to play the role of mentor to a group of students who will be seeing this landscape for the first time in their lives. I don't know who will learn more, them or me!

I'll be missing in action for a few weeks, but I will sign in when I can.  Gaelyn, hopefully we'll see you on the 17th or 18th! 
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