Masterful pranksters

A tree can take a decade to spread its arms in a morning yawn. Only rocks live longer. But trees are way more mischievous.

I stumbled recently upon a tree stump, clearly cut with human tools. The stump, however, had been split many years earlier by what must have appeared to the then-seedling, to be a huge wedge of sandstone, like a steel wedge placed by a woodsman preparing a cord of winter heat.

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Why the old man laughs

Somewhere near the head of a stream, water seeps slowly into a flaw in the granite. Winter cold freezes the mixture of oxygen and hydrogen into an expanding wedge that forces the boulder to crack in two pieces, then more. Gradually, over several winters, the stream grows larger and the boulder pieces smaller.

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Second favorite season

After 480 million years, the tor monster still is not done molting.Every year I write at least one column about how Fall is my favorite season. I can’t help it. Well, my second favorite, in truth.

The camp pot is about to start percolating a fresh cup of coffee in time with a song by the Ventures playing in my memory. Outside the kitchen window, the tree I don’t ever remember its name has lost all its foliage, early to bed for the winter season. But the Silver maple, still mostly deep chili green, and the dogwood, in deep chili green and merlot red, are clad in late fall attire.

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Bending birches among the dinosaurs

Erosion has exposed the mountaintop - a tor - and maybe a dinosaur or two.Some 66 million years ago, the last of the giant dinosaurs ended their 160-million-year reign as the giantist wanderers on the planet. But never fear; their bones became permanently encased in the future crust of the  aforementioned cosmic sphere, waiting for future young archeologists to dig them up. Continue reading Bending birches among the dinosaurs

Feeling old? Check this out.

Monument to the agesWhen I first saw the rock pile, through a couple hundred yards of sparse mountain hardwood, it looked as though the boulder had been stacked atop a section of bedrock. I wondered how it got there.

[pullquote]Mud that had become home to swamp plants was compressed into anthracite coal, to be mined several million years later by Irish laborers.[/pullquote]I knew it was not from glacial action. Between 2.5 million years and about 12,000 years ago, glaciers made multiple forays over North America. Some scientist believe that, left to its own devices, another Ice Age could occur, though we humans seem to be doing an excellent job of keeping the heat turned up.

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