Saltation

Thin clouds of purest white streaked through the crystalline sky miles above the dune as it glistened and glittered in the morning’s golden sunlight. The ever-present wind swirled down out of its invisibility above grazing the crests of each swell placing a yellow halo at the crown of each and every rise. Soon, these phenomena broadened and covered everything leeward. Never just one grain but nearly an infinite amount of particles bouncing and flying over the top. The sandscape vibrating and flirting with focus and vision. Wave after wave, all as if it were applauding itself, this audience of at least trillions upon trillions upon trillions of its own. This is the way sand dunes travel and comfort themselves.

There is no apparent grand purpose other than subtle providence, yet, that is grand in itself.

After all the commotion, Bug, the darkling beetle, emerged from its hiding place an inch below the surface. Rat, arrived first, however, and it ate Bug. Then Hawk swirled down out of its invisibility high above in the crystal sky and snatched Rat with bloody talons.

Rat knew he had come to his end, for all rats die as does everything else that lives. Rat was pleased that it was Hawk that would consume him. Coyote or Snake would not honor him with such an aerial showing of the vast world he lived in before he was killed.

END
w.feller

END
w.feller

Harry Oliver’s Argument Starters

horned lizard, desert wildlife
Horned lizard

Roadrunners kill rattlesnakes.

Desert turtles live a hundred years.

The loudest noise in the world is thunder.

The horned toad is not a toad; it’s a lizard.

The Vinegaroon is half spider and half scorpion.

Animals are wild because man has made them so.

The largest gold nugget ever found weighed 630 pounds.

A cubic foot of gold weighs more than half a ton — 1203 pounds.

There are many kinds of cactus that will not grow in the desert.

A lightning flash lasts approximately one-millionth part of a second.

Horsehair rope as a barrier to stop rattlesnakes has been proved a myth.

One pound of honey represents the lifetime work of more than 1,000 bees.

A mule knows three times as much as a horse, and a burro is smarter than a mule.

The Indian population in the desert is steadily growing — from 8,000 to 45,000 in 60 years.

Needles of the prickly pear cactus are cut to size, shaped, polished, and sold as phonograph needles.

Each rattlesnake helps man by killing off between 100 and 150 rats, mice, gophers, and ground squirrels every year.

The dried stalks of the desert yucca are gathered and sent to a factory in Brooklyn, New York, for the manufacturing of artificial limbs.

Horned Toads sometimes lay eggs and other times will give forth living young. It seems that the mother can’t quite make up her mind.

Over 3,000 different herbs and plants for therapeutic use were grown in Montezuma’s Mexican botanical gardens years before the discovery of America.

It is estimated that half a million snakes and twice that number of lizards were killed for their skins and turned into shoes and purses last year for milady’s fancy.

The department of education in Mexico wants the children in that country to look to the old Aztec god, Quelzaoatl, for their presents each Christmas, rather than Santa Claus.

Many old prospectors have been saved from thirst by the water contained in the famous barrel cactus. Today this barrel cactus furnishes the base for some of the noted cactus candies.

Wrinkled inhabitants of the desert shake their heads and whisper startling exaggerations when you ask about the Jumping Cactus (Cholla); nevertheless, it does jump, but only when stirred by the swish of your pant leg or coat sleeve.

INDIAN NAMES. In the matter of geographical names, the contribution of the Indian is conspicuous. At least twenty of the states comprised in the United States bear Indian names, while for rivers, lakes, and towns, the list of Indian names is in almost equal proportion.

Ghosts & Gold

Mojave Trail

Mojave Trail

Monument at Las Flores Ranch

This secluded valley once bore primitive traffic and knew the lithe tread of native feet. The ancient Indian trail from the Colorado River to the coast led up the Mojave River into the mountains and climbed Sawpit Canyon to the summit of the range. The Piute Indians, using this trail, leaving a pathway that guided a Spanish priest, explorers, and pioneers across the desert waste and over the mountain barrier. When the Mormons came, in 1851, immigrant wagons wore a well-marked road through Cajon Pass. Thereafter, the old Mojave Trail through Summit Valley was little used.

Billy Holcomb Chapter No. 1069, E Clampus Vitus

Thin Window

Lucerne Valley cabin

Through the thin window, I watch the torn-away sky
clouds shredded and stolen as sharpened winds howl by

Spinning wildflowers and tumbling weeds
frantically, frantically spreading their seeds

Two birds in a bush warbling in trills and quavers
it is the lopsided melody the garbled song favors

Trade rats somersaulting across the bare ground
cartwheeling badgers angrily claw as they wheel round and round

Stiff-legged coyotes hobnobbing in play
catching jackrabbits and cottontails that can only jump up, not away

and dust swirls into dust devils then dispersed above
All of this, all of this, lonely, barren, wind-scarred, and loved.

The Fault Route

Click the map to view a larger image

It seems that people have made use of the San Andreas Fault long before automobile or even wagon roads were developed along its seam. Shown is a 1901 U.S.G.S. map where I have traced the route leading from near Blue Cut in the Cajon Pass, just about straight northwest to Valyermo. The dotted line portion shown at the Big Pines saddle may have been either a mule trail or a road possibly impassible or without increased effort by wagon or auto. Indians likely used the features of the fault as a footpath to do as we all do; go from here to there.

The Natural History of a Raindrop

They were brothers, airborne, spiraling to earth together. Brothers as brothers can be they remained brothers until they splashed on the divide together and one rolled to the desert and one, the larger of the two, rolled toward the sea. That large raindrop would do fine, however, the small one would have to find its own ocean. Until then the little raindrop did what most other raindrops do and that is to fall.

At this point, many raindrops would soak into the earth joining the stormwater underground. These rainshadow renegades would travel to the aquifers deep into the earth below to ancient, private, and murky waters.

From sticks and dead leaves and rocks and out of crevices other little raindrops dripped to trickle together in intricate alpine streams hastily making way through a myriad of delicate and fragile waterfalls, into pools, then resting a few moments before being pushed out by the increasing deluge behind them.

From these streams to creeks the raindrops gathered rushing rather blindly through boulders and fallen trees in the narrow canyon joined by other smaller canyons and joining itself to larger creeks coming from larger canyons until swirling and twisting, colored with mud and dirty foam, all of a sudden coming together to become a river.

“Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice,” thought the little raindrop. It had found its way–to a river that should by all accounts transport it to the sea.

That didn’t happen, though. The river fell into the quicksands and disappeared into an eerie underworld layered below the clouded skies, under the sands of the empty river, and above the dark and mysterious aquifer.

Later, there was the bright and sunny sky overhead when the raindrop, risking evaporation, surfaced for a breath then soaked back into the safety of the shallows.

Again and one more time again this happened. Finally, there is no finally. The little raindrop simply never came back. After all, it was just a raindrop…

The end.

My First Fossil

There it was–I didn’t even have to sweep it off with the little paleontology brush I just bought.

Finding my first fossil was a much bigger deal than I thought it would have been. There was a lot of excitement and yelling. Running around, too–don’t know why, I mean, it wasn’t going anywhere. There were people from the museums, also. They were standing over in the shade grumbling in muffled mumbles. They coveted the find. However, smiling broadly with all rows of their sharpened teeth showing, they stood next to it for pictures.

In a little more than a whisper from their dark huddle, one could hear, “It should have been us. We are worthy.”

Timeless Rainbows

Ancient rainbows

I like to watch the very end of the day–the last slivers of light seen while everyone has gone home to have their dinner and watch the television. Those last shreds of light must be mine, at least as far as my eyes can see. I see how lovely this light is, nearly, nearly an invisible veil as shear as color. There are final bits of sunlight delicately pulled away from jagged edges in order to begin the evening properly. And here, especially where rainbows once beautiful and bold, now faded and wicked, tear the low light trying to hold on to the day, these olden days past . . .

Rainbow Basin

Cerro Gordo

Cerro Gordo The “fat hill” produced silver, lead, and zinc for a century. At its peak, over 1,000 people lived here working in mines as the San Felipe and Union. At the time the smelters were the best there were. Silver was roasted and formed into bullion, sent down the Yellow Grade road by mule team, then shipped across Owens Lake by steamboat. From the lakeside port of Cartago, the bullion was loaded onto Remi Nadeau‘s freighters and hauled into Los Angeles.

Hole-in-the-Wall

***** PICNIC TABLE GEOLOGY PRESENTS *****
30-second seminars — by Some Guy

Hole-in-the-Wall – Mojave National Preserve

About 18.5 million years ago one day everything was blah, blah, blah and then all of a sudden . . . POOOM!

Hot, suffocating ash buried every living thing in the path of the blast. An area of over 600 km2 was covered with ash and rock fragments so hot that they welded together after they reached the ground. The toasted and fossilized remains of birds, mammals, and plants lie entombed beneath the volcanic tuff that forms the colorful cliffs of Hole-in-the-Wall.

https://digital-desert.com/a/hole-in-the-wall/