I’d guess most people like mountains – majestic, lifting themselves to the heavens. Many, especially aboriginal, peoples have had some kind of foundational tradition saying mountains are a spiritual pathway, whether for the dead or, as in the case of Native Americans, the place of vision quest. In the Christian tradition, Jesus went to the mountains to teach, to meet with other spiritual masters, to ascend into heaven.
I think of mountains as the bones of the earth. They fascinate me in their growth and layers that tell secret stories. The stories aren’t secrets to geologists, of course, they can read the ages in the layers, but most of us can’t. We can only wonder.
Here are two of my favorite mountain photos from our California trip. Both from the Utah desert.
Astonishing. If you click on it, you can see more clearly the face carved into the wall just below the tallest ancient there on the left. How did that happen? What kind of geological upheaval and compression carved those blocks on the top and left the side windswept except for the one medallion on the left flank? It all makes me want to go back and study geology. Of course, I understand that the top is a different kind of rock than the sides, but what caused the layers?
The second shot is so dramatic – this one lone mountain surging up by itself.
The top seems to be made of the same sort of rock as the previous shot, but this one is so big and so solitary, the evolution so difficult, as if the earth grew an elbow, raising itself from the floor of birth.
The runnels down the side are like tendons and have a painterly chiaroscuro – shadows and light pronounced – dramatic, and on the right side, the harder stone ledges out to stop the rush of infrequent water. No green on this mountain – the sides all of a soft dun. The pole at the bottom, almost center, gives an idea of it height.
So here’s two of my current favorite mountains – along with my current wonder at the complexity of the earth. The earth’s complexity may tell the tale of why we humans are so complex as we traverse our lives over (or past) the bones of the past.