Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Of course this rock is anything but new but I discovered it today for perhaps the first time. An afternoon walk along one of my well traveled trails took a detour over a deer path across our abandoned meadow. I found safe entrance into the woods next to a huge growth of DEC introduced roses. This rock of impressive size greeted me. The most recent glacier pushed or dropped this rock to its present location.
This chunk of sedimentary rock is typical of what forms our ridges. Weathered sediments from ancient mountains to our east were deposited in a vast inland sea. These accumulated in sufficient depth to form a plateau that underlies much of this part of our state.
Weathered remains of the plateau form the ridges that edge our valley. Where the slope is steep the soil is thin, the rocks are plentiful and early farmers left that land untilled. Forest products were taken then as well as today but these places remain wild and primitive in appearance. The valleys and flat areas were filled with glacial till and enough soil formed there to support agriculture.
One end of this stone hangs in the air unsupported. How much of it is buried is unknown but is sufficient to hold an end in the air. A crack is opening and in time all of this rock will rest on the surface of the forest floor.
One might assume that rocks are relics that have survived eons unchanged. That is far from their actual state. Mosses and lichens not only grow on this rock surface they actually dissolve it to produce needed nutrients. Their slow but steady life process creates soil from rock. Gravity combined with freeze and thaw cycles are opening a crevice where leaf litter will accumulate. The acid decay of fallen vegetation will also dissolve stone producing more soil.
This is just another rock in the woods. A pause and a long look can produce images of a natural process that is easy to overlook. I had another late afternoon walk in the presence of natural wonder and I feel fortunate to have seen it.