Divinely commissioned to liberate France from England's clutches, Joan of Arc left her country home in search of horse, sword, and a suit of armor. At nineteen, guided by saints, she accomplished her mission, then was betrayed and burned at the stake. On her birthday, we are reminded of the principled and ardent fervor of youth.
-from Patti Smith's, Book of Days
More than 5000 feet of salt accumulated as a restricted seaway evaporated and refilled 29 times. As the nearby mountains eroded, their debris washed into the basin, put pressure on the salt below, and forced the salt towards the sea.
Uplift and Collapse
The flowing salt hit a long, deep fault and formed a "salt wall" two miles high, three miles wide, and 70 miles long. Later, it was buried by more than a mile of sediments that eventually became rock. Regional uplifts then wrinkled some of these overlying rock layers, creating long parallel cracks. The mile of rock eroded, exposing the cracks near the surface. Water seeped through the cracks and dissolved the salt below. Without support, the overlying rock collapsed, forming today's Salt Valley.
Fractures and Fins
Closely-spaced cracks along the edge of Salt Valley continue to erode. As they widen, thin walls of sandstone, or fins, are left behind. Many of the arches form in these fins.
There is no single or simple way that arches form. Like most things in nature, it takes a combination of processes.
Cracks in fins and the contact layer between different layers of rock are good places for arches to begin. Both mechanical and chemical forces attack these weaker spots, and begin the processes which form the arches.
Water enters the cracks, freezes and expands, relieving inherent stretches in the rock. Gravity pulls out loosened pieces of rock, enlarging the opening.
Slightly acidic rainwater saturates sand that accumulates between fins. The calcium carbonate "glue" that holds sandstone together is dissolved, rocks fall, and fins get thinner. Eventually an opening forms.
-some plaque you sent me
"The number of variations that occurs naturally, and the things that are formed are absolutely incredible, and beyond human imagining. Imagine what a 2 mile tall "salt wall" must have been like to see. George RR Martin thought he was being creative with a 700ft tall wall." - something you said
Going to my mom's later, to dig up my journal when I was 17 in France, read my reflections on being in Rouen, the place Joan of Arc was burned. There's a photograph in mind, taken by a disposable camera, of Emily and I in a throng of ten-year-olds. I don't know how are why we made this happen. This limited memory is fine, but I'm looking forward to record.
How do we tell our stories?
Megan wrote me the other day. "I do not have eloquent words that have been thought over the Atlantic Ocean like C. My words are twisted and paused like a bird trying to fly in the winter wind." She investigates the land. Brushes over the bones and hand morphed things with a soft brush. She comes to Redmond from time to time I hear when there isn't snow. I wonder what it would be to examine the land, spend time with it.
Cari left me rose quartz dice in exchange for letting the dogs out this morning. I licked them, hoping they were salt.
Looking through the photos on my phone, you'd think I never look up.
This one is borrowed. A stolen sunset. Tyler sent it to me, maybe a year ago. Maybe farther back.
But I'm not thinking of sunsets. I'm thinking of girls.
There has always been Rachels, there has always been Kellys. Nellas. Esmes. Hannas.
It's the unfortunate state of the matriarchy we find ourselves in. Compromised. Working in cycles on limited resources.
I do look up, but not with my phone. And it's not something I know how to share. It's not something I have context for.
Spaces. Vast spaces.
I can examine what's close. What I can hold in my hands, in my arms. I don't know what to do with the length of miles between here and there. I don't know what it means. It it makes me feel dumb.
I don't want to compete. I don't want to fight. I don't want anyone to go home alone.
I examine things I've brought in from the walk: a damp headlamp, a stick, pine needles. They are laid out on the table. Treasures. Things don't stay for long. Clutter happens easily in a small house. I'm a gnome in this way, though more of a halfling. "By going far; my looks leash.." Sylvia Plath.
I'd rather have the world before me within 12 inches of my face.
A phone, a laptop, a book, some objects I must organize.
These cycles are exhausting. Man chasing cycles. Man winning cycles. Dancing to be desired. Doing the tricks to be noticed. My phone fell in the chili soaking pot this afternoon. I was filming myself wearing a space helmet full of flowers. The phone was leaned against some books on the kitchen altar. It fell right into the sink and I fished it out, greasy. Wet. It seems fine, but won't charge.
The space between my phone and I is making me deliberate my simple existence. It's not much space, but it's enough.
I can't stop thinking of the Year of the Rabbit, a 12 year cycle. I'm thinking of the dissolution of Esme's marriage to James Ryan around this time. Esme's and I meeting at her birthday in March. Meeting James Ryan at the Easter party over bike croquette. That ensuring summer in that house. Thunderstorm running with Boy Casey. Having my heart shredded by my own stupidity, friendships rise and erode. I had birthed myself again the following Spring but never let myself feel that way again. It was so stupid. I beat the shit out of myself for trusting anyone during that time. For showing softness in any way. For being anything but sharp and aware and angry.
And I feel better now. 2022 was a good year. I was in love and someone loved me back and we had said it. And then I found I loved myself more and left and that felt good too. There was balance in the year of the Tiger. There was healing. There was softening. There were female relationships unmarred by betrayal and pain. There were male friendships that were romantic but nonsexual.
The question in the cycle is, did you learn? Can you stay soft? Can you see the prophecy of betrayal and love anyway? Can you see the omens in the migration patterns, the way the leaves grip the inside of the tea cup, the writing on the walls, the cards on the shawl and say, "I learned. I can do better."