There is ancient stone. There are dead (grey) lichens, thriving orange and yellow ones, and some green ones doing very well. There are flakes of stone that have broken off, scattering the lichens across the slope, in an ongoing story of life, moving across the land and increasing its complexity.
There is the different story told by wood. Note how the lichens have colonized stone and sagebrush differently below, with different forms of mineral-mining and different relationships between exposure, heat and water.
Sometimes, the rock weathers so rapidly, that lichen is able to mine the crumbling faces of the stone without shifting in place, and grows increasingly complex.
Sometimes that only happens on wood.
Sometimes, lichen’s hold on stone is tenuous, and slow, quickened only by the plants, such as the sagebrush buttercup below, that mine this relationship.
Sometimes, geographical shape allows for two different rock regimes at once, with two different kinds of lichen, in two different seasons, slowly working the stone. Note the slow spread of lichens across the surrounding soil.
It can become very complex over time. Note that in mature environments, there is no exposed soil at all, and the earth is gloved with life, out of which plants shoot up and stones maintain the mineralization process.
That’s the way it is in grasslands. Here is a stone that has fallen off a cliff and is slowly being brought into the cycle.
Here’s an older one, well established as an engine of life.
Oh, yeah, see that pile of dirt and rock in the back left above? Yeah. Look closer.
12,000 years can be realigned in 2 minutes with a bulldozer to put in a power line. There is a lot of jumbled environment here that can heal itself, but do, please, make no mistake. This is violence against the earth. If it does not heal, the capacity for life in this landscape is diminished and it will be the desert that popular culture says it is. I will leave you with the cliff that is seeding this grass, and the water. it is gathering and concentrating and giving forth.
We who receive it are like the sagebrush buttercup I showed you above. Here is the upper reach of the falls bringing us berries.
Calling these effects purely random is purely colonial. The post-colonial science of the future will incorporate this bodily knowledge or it will continue the anti-indigenous violence. Let’s choose the path of life.
These really are our mother’s bones.