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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Geology, Wonder, and Lunch



Carolyn J. Rose       

Recently I spent a week in the Catskill Mountains where I was born and raised. I visited with friends and relatives and, on an amazingly clear and warm day, walked along the edge of North Lake with my brother Lorin, his wife Shirley, my cousin (and book cover designer) Dorion, his wife Jeanine, and their dog Chanel. 


 I’d proposed this walk for research purposes. The third book in the Catskill Mountains Mysteries series will feature an erratic—a boulder carried along by a glacier. The area around North Lake, according to Robert Titus’s book on the geology of the Catskills, is the current resting place of several of these massive chunks of rock. (I say “current” because the next glacier could shift them again.)

I’d seen pictures of some of them, but I wanted a more personal experience. I wanted to press my hands against an ancient boulder and wonder where it came from and how far it traveled before the glacier retreated and abandoned it. I wanted to see furrows sliced into rock by pebbles dragged along by a towering sheet of ice. I wanted to feel the weight of the past, imagine the landscape as it was more than 20,000 years ago.



Winter in the Catskills had been long and cold. Patches of snow still lingered among the trees, and frozen cascades of water marked the outflow of hillside springs. Except for a few open patches, ice still gripped the lake. Geese stood on the slushy edges of that ice, calling across open water.

 The sun was bright and the sky a brilliant blue. A breeze whisked across the frozen lake and soughed through the pines. Dorion snapped photos and, knowing it might be years before I returned, I filled my mind with images, scents, sounds, and sensations.

I felt insignificant. My lifespan wouldn’t register as even a second on a clock marking the passage of geologic time.

And I felt small and powerless. Like those boulders, forces beyond my imagination and understanding plucked me from somewhere, shaped me, and dropped me among those blue hills.

The why of it all was far beyond me. So I put that wondering aside and focused on the glorious day, on stories from our youth, and on the deli sandwiches my brother brought along.

Life is short and time is fleeting. But good food and good company seem to add hours to a warm afternoon.

To see more of Dorion Rose’s stunning photographs, visit:http://brokencork.blogspot.com


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