Monday, September 16, 2013


I like to roam around the countryside looking for interesting rock outcrops, blooming flowers, nicely shaped trees, and singing birds.  I have always been interested in nature and in these later years of my life thoroughly enjoy just "being alive".  As I am fond of telling my friends, life is good.

So, in areas that I am quite familiar with (geologically speaking), it takes much to really surprise me.  Like, "holy cow, what in the world is that" sort of surprise?  A real serendipitous moment!  Well, it happened the other day during my little trip to western Kansas.  I was on a country road that I had traveled tens of times before, always looking out the window at the rocks when it popped up, there it was---"what was it"?  Am I seeing things (and no I did not have any of that funny weed that Colorado has legalized)?  It looks like a "statue" of some sort out in the pasture. I parked my pickup, crossed the fence (without snagging my pants on the barbed wire [known in the west as bob wire]), and trudged up to the "statue".  Much to my amazement there was a large hunk of Fort Hays Limestone (Cretaceous, member of the Niobrara Formation) that a stone mason had skillfully worked into a Native American "head" complete with an eagle feather bonnet.  It seemed to have been in place at least a few decades since the characteristic black patina of the Fort Hays had formed.  I didn't have the slightest idea what this old gentleman was doing out in the pasture.  It was on a slope of Blue Hill Shale where it had tumbled down from the outcrop above (before the carving), and I did not notice any nearby structures where an early rancher may have lived.  So, I decided to ask my brother, who lives reasonably close to the pasture, about the gentleman.   Since he is the smarter one of the family I thought for certain that he would know the answer, or at least make one up.  Although brother had seen the structure, explanations were not forthcoming---he didn't have the slightest idea about the origins of the gentlemen.  Well sort of did not have any ideas---he did spout something about Vikings and Rune Stones (we are of Danish hertitage so Vikings have always been our heroes).

I guess the old gentlemen in the pasture will remain a mystery to me, at least for now.  And that is OK for life always needs a few mysteries for without mysteries life would be very dull indeed.  What would be left to strive for if everything were known? (Charles de Lint)


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