That Sinking Feeling

August 3, 2021

Once upon a time, about 50 years ago, I entered college and studied natural science.  I fancied myself a young naturalist who yearned to learn the sciences that help us understand the natural world around us.  I eventually focused on coastal geology as my life’s work but I still summon up that original college education when I’m out in nature.  One thing that was drilled into my head in geology classes is the vast difference between geologic time and biologic time.  In geologic time 1,000 years is a bat of an eye while in the biologic world that same amount of time is hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of lifetimes.  I was fascinated, in college, by my professor’s lectures about the colonists’ complete deforestation of the New England countryside for their farms, followed by a successional reforestation naturally through eventual abandonment of non fertile land by settlers when they had depleted soil nutrients.  These lessons come back to me when I see something slowly, as measured by the biologic clock, melt back into nature.  I photographed this boat in Chincoteague in 2015 because its ancient look told me of years of toil on the water.  I was in Chincoteague recently and that boat has not fared well.  It is sinking into the bay bottom where, if left alone, it will eventually disintegrate into tiny pieces that will wash into the tide.  This will be done slowly in biologic time but in 1/100 of a nanosecond in geologic time.  The earth is patient.

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