Several million years ago Cascade volcanoes laid layer upon layer of ash across Central Oregon. Under the ash leaves, twigs, seeds, and small animals were preserved as fossils. Which, today, or at least today in geologic time, are studied and analysed by paleontologists. As the fossil images are interpreted stories develop. Life and death, climate change, and changing plant communities, are the feature stories told by the ashen shale.
But, only a few miles away, along the John Day River, birds, bugs, and water are busy writing a more contemporary tale. Quiet narratives of heavy rain, snow melt and river levels rising and falling; epic sagas of worms burrowing under the sand and leaving tracings of their day’s toil and; lively odes of birds dancing on the water’s edge. And, it’s my story too; a story of a woman traveler, exploring a dramatic landscape and finding an encyclopedia of data and facts chronicled on a sandy riverbank, just like a book, there for the reading.