DELUGE

I recall these cakes of dry earth, so tight they could barely admit the rains once they finally arrived; nearby trenches termed ‘washes,’ because that’s what happens to stormwater once it comes, as it does, unpredicted; without warning, thunderheads gathering on distant horizons, long-lost friends reconvening over variegated rosewood mountains, indigo distance, ink of twilight, luminous quarter moon, nothing but space this Mojave; gone, the Yuman and their language, all that’s left, vast and yawning, stretching lowland contemplating eternity;

Once was sea floor; then, we combed it for fossils now locked up by the Feds, regulated, and though I understand ‘why’ years later, greed and avarice, my girls need not have been admonished for plucking wonder from the ground to examine details, while in the distance, someone watching, lightning quick to the spot on which we stood, finger accusing, ‘You’re collecting!’ Threatened punishment, wide-eyed wonder, they’re just children, no harm looking, but they dropped them on that cracked ground, hot and aching, distant memories cannot banish; lost, the magic.

8 comments on “DELUGE”

  1. Your picture looks like my winter-dry skin under close magnification. This post brings up so many thoughts and memories as I love to spend time in wild and remote areas so I find feathers, fossils and interesting rocks on a regular basis. If I don’t pick up the owl or eagle feather, I figure it will eventually decompose. Possession of the raptor feather may be illegal but I didn’t poach the animal. The wave tumbled quartz crystal from an archipelago island off Grand Manan, Canada will eventually be ground down to sand. I pick it up from where I put it outside my house now and then and remember the circumstances in which I found it. I was huddled under a tree waiting out a torrential down-pour and noticed it on the crest of a gravel bar. It’s an object that transports me back to a time and place. In a sense it’s a time-transport tool. I liked visiting Joggins Fossil Cliffs in Nova Scotia and being encouraged to pick up fossils eroding out of the cliffs. There was a small local museum with an enthusiastic curator who realized that the fossils eroding from the cliffs into the ocean would just disappear if not found and saved by a collector. I remember the fossilized dragonfly at the museum which was found by someone and donated to the museum. most of the fossils were segments of long extinct primitive trees from an early fossil era. It brings out the childhood wonder and awe in my adult self to remember our brief place in the geological time-scale of this wonderful planet.

    • Haha, I can imagine – winter dry skin 😉 I know you collect such items – I still remember you gifting me with a hawk feather, I believe – and it stayed with me until only a couple of years ago, when mites finally had their way with the barbs. It was getting pretty shaggy. I had some fossils growing up, but somehow in the chaos of my mid-teens when my parents divorced, these and more were lost to the four winds somehow and somewhere. I was just trying to survive and get through high school at that time. I love that Joggins Cliffs encourages you to pick up fossils eroding from the cliffs. All things do pass, and as long as most people collect such treasures to keep the wonder alive, it seems only right that they enjoy them. Still, as we know, not all feel as we do, and it’s for those people that such strict laws as we encountered are enforced. Like I say, I understand it now, but at the time, it really seemed over the top. That woman was just flexing her authority, big-time. Not much to do in the middle of nowhere, I guess 😦 Aloha, Mary Lee – wishing you a gentle winter! ❤

  2. Sometimes so difficult to understand how it comes to this. They try to protect so much after so much harm is initially done but yes, children are in awe of such things and mean no harm. I love to walk a shore and see what I can find. I hope it did not leave a bad taste in their mouths. So much wonder for a child. Hope you are warm there. We are very cold here in WA. Take care.

    • Aloha, Renee, thanks for commenting. I don’t think it had any lingering effects, no – I actually took writer’s liberty to kind of mull my experiences as a child (finding so many bits and fossils out on the desert) and superimposed some of those wistful emotions onto this one incident when the girls were about 8 and 11-ish. I mean it was real enough, exactly as stated. But I can only assume how they felt when that woman came out of nowhere to accuse us of stealing (!) It was surreal. It’s more wet than cold during Hawaiian winters. Though sometimes we do close the windows and put on sweatshirts and socks(!) at 300 ft elevation. And elevation is everything. It’s really, really cold at 3500 feet, for example. And wet, which intensifies the chill. Hope your winter treats you kindly 😉

  3. Children are curious, they like to explore, that’s why collecting odd shells, fossils and feathers is fun…craving for those blue, green feathers of a peacock gave so much motivation to keep looking for them! We don’t even know when that pleasure turns into greed and those lovely raindrops seem harmful that we start hiding behind umbrellas and deprive ourselves of the real pleasures of soaking and savoring the blessings of Mother Nature!
    Lovely reflections Bela…so thought-provoking!

    • Agreed. I wandered freely on these deserts as a child with my dad and siblings – nobody ever stopped us from exploring or ‘collecting.’ I was horrified how much things had changed by the time my girls were old enough and we had the opportunity to see that part of the country (the West, girls born and raised in the Northeast). Back then, there was nobody around, and I do mean NOone. The road we often took was barely one lane, nevermind two, and it was a two-way road through miles of nothing – miles from gas stations, so we knew just where to fill up. Now it’s a highway with plenty of traffic, people towing boats to distant waning bodies of water, gas stations dotting the landscape.

      Funny you mention peacock feathers – I remember going to the Arboretum, excited that I might find one – and now I can’t remember if I ever did, but there were a few peacocks there, for sure.

      So on we go, into the future, and who knows what we’ll see – I hope not a total dwindling of wide open spaces. One needs to purge the mind, after all. Blessings to you, Balroop! Thanks, as always, for your comments. ❤

  4. ‘Rosewood mountains’ – what a very lovely image; so perfect. I now live on what was once the sea floor, some 4k-6k years ago. Very nearby, just back in 1970, a chap called Ray Sweet inadvertently unearthed (beneath a peat bog) a wooden walkway that was constructed in 3807/3806 BC and which was the oldest timber trackway discovered in Northern Europe until more recently one was revealed in London which marginally predated the so-called Sweet Track. So, that’s my favourite walk here, along (actually, just beside) that ancient trackway. Life on The Waterlands. H ❤

    • Wow! What a cool bit of history. I marveled at the peat bogs in Ireland – first time I saw them, none noted in Scotland, years ago. I do know they preserve and protect many as-yet undiscovered historical treasures. Happy that you have that wondrous place to walk 😉 xo


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