I live in a dynamic topography. To my east, the cerulean waters of the Gulf of California fill the rent in the Earth’s crust where, on its journey northward, the Pacific Plate is swinging away from the North American Plate. To my west is the Sierra Gigante. The name Sierra (sawblade), so apt, as the peaks thrust 1,500 meters straight from the sea. It is on this boundary between sea and sierra I live.
The Sierra itself speaks of its birth in earth, fire and water as sedimentary layers of sand, clay and conglomerates alternate or are covered by pyroclastic and lava flows a hundred or more meters thick, each one on top of the other. The boundaries are clearly defined by horizontal lines that slant, dive, dip, and bend in response to crustal forces hidden far below.
Raging torrents from the late summer tropical storms (tormentas tropicales), in their torment, claw sheer walled canyons that line the Sierra’s rocky faces. The furious waters propel car sized boulders that choke the narrows, and in sandstone ledges, leave gouge lines. Even in summer heat, where waterfalls once thundered, tiny cascades trickle into pools scooped deep into yielding stone, respite from the withering heat.
Gravity requires movement in only one direction—down. Not even the loftiest peak can resist. Whole mountainsides slump as their bases erode. Boulders are ground to stones which are, in turn, ground to sand. All impelled to the sea and the mighty chasm below from whence all originated.
I have always lived with mountains and canyons. I spent the bulk of my life in the Colorado Rockies. I have stood at 6,000 meters and gazed at a peak nearly 3,000 meters higher, called by those who live in its shadow The Goddess Mother of the Earth. I matured on the Colorado Plateau; played in a place so riven that it is named Canyon Lands; traversed the canyon immense enough to be called Grand. Yet nothing is like where I am right now in scope or impact.
Here, the forces of the Earth are laid bare. Epochs of change are frozen in time and motion, leaving only distance, and perhaps it is that distance that occupies me now—the distance from friends, family, and all that was once familiar; the distance between each of us as human beings, the distance from my own birth. Distance can change by the variables of time and motion. I can return to the familiar by moving back to where I came from. Distance between people can be bridged with time and movement toward understanding. The distance that can’t be closed is the one controlled by direction—the expanding distance from my own creation.
My own cycle is mirrored by the landscape that surrounds me. I too am separated from what was once familiar. Deep chasms separate me from those I love. My face is furrowed by life’s inescapable torments. I am layered, bent, and fractured. On a far faster scale, I too am being exposed and worn down by inescapable forces. All things that are must return to their source to be reformed, recast, remade, recreated, the process of the universe itself.
STORY IMAGE CREDIT: Ed Nugent