Photo Essay: Erosion

(Photos taken near Red Rock, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada)

Rocks. I love rocks… and sand too.  I especially love places where rocks, sand, wind and water slowly transform each other.

Like some grand geological game of Rock-Paper-Scissors, water and wind turns stone into sand, and then sand, settling down as sediment under pressure, cements into sandstone. Rinse. Repeat.

Erosion. Used as a figure of speech, it usually implies something negative; as seen in the real world, it’s something beautiful.

Those who knew me as a kid know how much time I spent with sand and rocks building dams on the beach, pouring water through handmade aqueducts and watching a high-speed version of erosion unfold, mesmerized by miniature flash floods.

If they were here with me, they’d say, “Yes, of course you like this.” 

Here in the desert near Lake Mead the landscape is Martian in hue and texture, every photo a false color vista that seems flat and ambiguous in scale… only the tire treads from other rovers give a sense of how big or small things might be. Like dirty roadside snowbanks melting in the Spring, ancient sand dunes have developed an sharp outer crust of pebbles and gravel.  “There is evidence here of water,” announce the NASA scientists.

Now I hear Robert Plant, crooning in my head,

“And so today, my world it smiles, your hand in mine, we walk the miles,
When mountains crumble to the sea, there will still be you and me.”

Thank you, Led Zeppelin.

Once the water has done its work dissolving and reducing mountains to their very bones, the dry wind screams out and reveals her concerns, slapping the face of these slumbering masses, sculpting them further.

This is a tranquil space within an unforgiving environment, a xeric shrubland that supports only the most furtive, crepuscular activity.

“The world breaks everyone,” noted Hemmingway, “and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”

The sun makes a splash, too, changing its angle and glancing off boulders, warming and baking the stone until it glows.

I feel at home.


About danspira

My blog is at: My face in real life appears at a higher resolution, although I do feel pixelated sometimes.

Posted on February 17, 2012, in photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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