Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Walking through the distant past

Ebbing tide in the Booth Canal

The greatest beauty is organic wholeness, the wholeness of life and things, the divine beauty of the universe- Love that ,not man apart from that.     Robinson Jeffers.

The walking group has zigzagged down the wooded slopes near Vesuvius and are now beginning a walk along the beach towards Booth Canal, that long muddy tidal channel that fills part of the low valley that overlays the fault line separating the middle from the northern part of Saltspring Island. We are walking on thin, straight lines of almost vertically tilted shale beds which are themselves littered with sandstone and granite boulders. How interesting, but like most of our landforms, how complicated to understand let alone explain to non-geological walkers.

The Booth Canal

The foreign rocks and gravel are easiest to explain as remnants from glacial times or as sandstone from higher up falling down the steep slopes as the cliffs eroded. The sandstones are beautifully sea-sculpted in their turn and in some are the swirling marks from their own genesis on wave-marked ancient beaches. It is impossible to truly grasp how ancient all this for a species like our own that has lived for such a blink of geological time.

A sandstone boulder sit atop the beds of shale.

And those lines of shale we prance so blithely over and which formed originally in muddy layers beneath a sea many miles away from their present place of residence. How did horizontal layers get tilted up like this? What forces crumpled them up like layers of cardboard pushed from both ends? Possibly one need only look to the collision of island bits that formed the Booth Canal valley, but then nearly all of our province has been formed from stray bits and pieces of islands, and Vancouver Island, the Strait of Georgia and the Coast Mountains are a larger series of similar humps and hollows, layers of twisted and eroded rock.

We stop for lunch.

Its a lovely day for a walk, the sun is breaking through and huge cumulus clouds tower up into the blue above us, but we stop once more at a cliff face which shows the tilted rock beds off beautifully. And 'beautiful' is an appropriate response that can live comfortably alongside all this rock history. Too much geology and too little love can skew our minds. What we instinctively feel with our hearts will serve us well along with the science of the world.

We chatter about our lives. An essential part of these walks.

Where shale met Sandstone years ago and their love keeps them together still.

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