Old and ancient

This is my first ever response to a weekly challenge.

I’ve been wanting to jump in and try a challenge. When I realized that the cover photo for this week’s photo challenge belonged to a blogger and photographer, Brian Cooney, who has inspired me, I thought I better honor him and give it a go. 

The topic: Near and Far. My interpretation includes time as an element.

Photographers flock to the Painted Hills of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. While I was there, the color of the hills swooned me, romanced me into thinking I couldn’t capture the true beauty of the hills with the skills and equipment I had brought. So, rather than spend hours at a sweeping vista snapping photos, I spent time at those vistas looking, slurping up the color, and listening to meadowlarks and crickets.

Later, on a side trip in the area I wandered the less popular paths. Nary a man or woman with a camera. But, it was here that I saw the image for which I was looking. It’s not the most beautiful picture but I love the story it tells.

The snag of a  Western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis) in the photo tells the story of near.  Although some Western junipers live to 800-1000 years, this one is no such patriarch.It takes many years for a tree to grow in the desert but as old and weathered as this specimen appears, it was likely a seedling within the span of recorded history. On a grand scale of time on earth, its life occurred near to mine.

In contrast, the brilliant colors of the backdrop sediments tell a different story of old. An old that is ancient, an old that is far away in time. The sediments date back many millions of years; some up to 40 million years. Within this hill lies the stories of the lives of trees from a more temperate climate: palms, ferns, and avocado. Within each color (pink, red, ochre)  of soil lies the stories of a time and place that seems so far away.

Together, these two features tell the story of their landscape: near and far.

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