Monday, November 05, 2007
Two old quarries scoop into the side of the mountain. Rusting tools mark where they broke the stones and carted them down to the road.
There, they built foundations which still survive. (At the bottom of The Stairs, the example.)
Pennsylvania Bluestone. A very hard form of sandstone deriving its shade from the mineral feldspar. When I hold it in my hands, I imagine the Pocono mountains piling up, young, before millenia wore them away. I imagine the pressure fusing ancient deposits into layers of stone.
But farther back, the mountains fall, and inland seas wash toward the east. Tidal flats stretch in vast deltas where rivers meet the warm Catskill Sea. 360 million years ago, Proto-North America had not yet drifted. The land basked in tropical sun three degrees south of the equator.
It is the Devonian period, after a collision of continents formed mountains to the northeast. Erosion from those mountains flows in the rivers here. Heavy sand sinks near the mouths to form Bluestone, while lighter mud and silt travel far out to sea, forming shale deposit to the west.
The Devonian Period ended with extinctions eliminating 70% of all species. Some believe that the proliferation of plants and trees consumed carbon dioxide, cooling the planet and lowering the levels of oxygen in the water. In the Catskill Sea, coral reefs and other warm water species were decimated.
Some also believe that we are part of the sixth great extinction right now--perhaps a reverse of time represented by the Bluestone in my hand. The great forested lungs of the planet dwindle to silence. Carbon dioxide and heat return.
So now, new meets old. Mirror eras coexist. We build with the memory of another world's tropical sand.
I wonder what world will build with the memory of ours.