Wednesday, June 10, 2009

One step at a time

It seems like a lifetime ago, but 16 years before today I climbed up a foggy rainy mountain in central Maine before starting a five month amble through the Appalachian summer into the crisp fall of Georgia.

As the time, I was burned out from two years of college, and sick of the Yankee smugness, the city lights, and the self importance of university. So I walked away. I’ve always been partial to trees, and surrounding myself with nothing else for half a year seemed like a perfect cure. And yet…


There was something aside from trees out there. The trees grew in dirt, and poking up through the dirt I saw rocks.

Flipping back though my photos, I was pleasantly surprised at how many of them show metapelites. What started as a slate belt developed quartz veins, then folds, then micas, and eventually garnet and staurolite in the month it took me to get into the big hills of New Hampshire. And I realized that if I ever really wanted to understand the stories that these rocks were trying to tell me, I’d have to go back to the dirty streets and crowded halls of college. The same campus that harbored self-important druggies and screechy activists also had microscopes and libraries. And the more I learned about rocks, the farther I could go to visit them.

A year later I was in the wild West, learning field mapping in the first half of the summer and hitch-hiking between geologic hot spots in the second half. Three years after that I was in Australia, and by the turn of the century I’d been to five continents.

Sixteen years on, I’m not really sure where the next step leads. I’ve run out of little white rectangles to follow. But I’d be surprised if it didn’t involve rock of some kind.

3 comments:

Kim said...

You know, most of my pictures from the top of Katahdin feature a similar view...

Chuck said...

It was fine for the next 6 days...

RBH said...

Sixteen years on, I’m not really sure where the next step leads. I’ve run out of little white rectangles to follow. But I’d be surprised if it didn’t involve rock of some kind.
.
Back when I was professing it used to make the parents of my freshmen very nervous to hear me say that one's career is likely to be a random walk. :)