About Me

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I am a mother, a teacher, and a nature lover. I grew up on a mountain we called Owls' Knob in the Ozarks of Arkansas. The first seven years of my life were spent living in a log cabin, far from a store or streetlight, without electricity or running water and after twenty years of travel, I returned to the abondoned homestead. Now I live on a hill by a small lake and work at a public garden. These are stories about nature written from a women deeply influenced by place.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Transformations over Time

The red rocks of Sedona Arizona are amazing. No photograph can capture the overwhelming beauty of the place. Towering rocks pillars lace sheer cliff faces, all in brilliant red color. Surrounded by these rock giants I feel like I must be in another time or place untouched by my current one.
I spent months traveling this landscape as a nineteen year old hippy, living out of my car. In those days I was lost, trying to find myself. Sedona attracts tourist of all kids, but it has something special for the lost, hopeful idealist. There for "positive vortexes" among these mystical rocks. (Don't ask me what that is, I am still not sure.) As a teenager, I followed a  boy who did contact juggling with crystal balls for spare change while I played the flute. I didn't know much back then, so I didn't even bother trying to grasp what had happened to the landscape.  I just appreciated the beauty and went on searching for myself.
Now I think I can explain the rocks formations (as an armature understands it), because I now know how the Ozark Mountains were formed. The Ozark Mountains are not really mountains at all, but gentle canyons and valleys. The Ozark Plateau was created from sediment under a shallow ocean millions of years ago, then a great uplift made the plateau rise up out of the ocean like a mesa. It started out relatively flat on top. Over time, rivers have eaten away the limestone, shale, and sandstone, creating valleys and thus rolling hills in between. The red rocks of Sedona have a very similar story.
These rocks were formed underneath oceans and on beaches; they are sedimentary rocks, mostly sandstone. Then a great uplift caused the area known as the Colorado Plateau to rise out of the water. The Colorado Plateau is like a giant cake, lifted up above the rest of the land area. But over time parts of the plateau have eroded away. It is like a giant cake melting and washing away from weather and rain. The sandstone of the desert sifts away quicker than the denser limestone and shale of the Ozarks. However, the layers do not all deteriorate at the same rate; therefore, pillars and mounds are left in between gullies and canyons. Brilliant red pigment seen in the rocks is a result of iron oxide; a mineral found covering each grain of sand in the sandstone.

 After years of erosion and weathering, natives found the red pillars of stone and came to nearly worship them. Hardy tribes lived among them despite the lack of fertile soil and rainfall in the area. To a primitive person walking along the earth, a giant red stone without a logical explanation, had to be from the Gods!
While visiting Arizona we stopped by Montezuma Castle. The ancient remains of a rock apartment complex, which must have housed over 100 people during its time, stands high above the ground. It is sheltered by the rock from falling rain and rising river water, preserved after thousands of years. The ruins were once home to a tribe of Natives called the Sinagua, but all their artifacts have long since been taken. The Sinagua tribe lived in this desert between 1100 and 1425. They survived by  using primitive farming and irrigation techniques.

Years ago, when I came to Sedona, and couldn't grasp the landscape, I was a very different person than this last time. It is interesting the way the environment changes and adapts over large amounts of time. We also change and adapt, only over short fractions of time. Nothing stays the same.

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