Imagine thousands of years of constant, never-ending pressure and heat. Imagine what that might do to you!? It changes things; it changes sand into sandstone. The rock cycle describes this change as going from Sedimentary rock form into Metamorphic rock, a virtual metamorphosis of the inorganic.
Standing here in the depth of the canyon I felt insignificant in size, strength, and age. The guidebook describes Starved Rock State Park as host to 18 canyons including French Canyon pictured here. But this description barely begins to describe the awesomeness of this space. These deep canyons are sandstone created from sand and then tediously carved by nature’s past glacial meltwater and today’s stream erosion. Already winded and sore from climbing up to Starved Rock and then down into French Canyon, I was realizing that “visiting” the other 17 canyons would be unrealistic for this passionate, yet human, explorer. So I leisured in the cool, humid sandstone floor catching my wheezy fall breath and stretching muscles around my tender knee. I reconciled to accept my smallness and observe the wondrous elements of this natural phenomenon to my best ability.
Our visit here was a chosen “long” route to St. Louis, veering off course of I55 and the never-ending flat farmland scenery. Through routine vistas I seek to enrich myself by hunting for beauty in even the simplest (or plain-est) of settings. The corn fields of Illinois this time of year have many and varied shades of brown and gold. This week the golden sun and brilliant blue sky seemed to spotlight the natural shades of fall on the farmland. This time, feeling the pressure of traveling this same path for over 35 years, I was moved. The wanderer in me forged a new pathway to St. Louis via Starved Rock State Park. Returning to the flatlands that is the common descriptive of Illinois reminded me that nature is powerful enough to carve hills and canyons and even flatlands; each extraordinary.
Final thought: How do those trees find enough strength to balance on the side of stone wall? How do they find the nourishment they need on the side of a cliff? Sure they need sun and CO2 and water…and they get it so they can make their own glucose….but just the trickling water down the side during rainy days is enough to sustain a tree for years and years. Wow!