Sour Grapes and Saddle Sores
Erosion, the Great Leveler
This is one last column on our winter spent in Arizona. On the way back to Wyoming, we traveled through New Mexico and saw the huge buttes along the road. These are walls of stone created some time in the distant past. I began to notice that some of the wall was open from top to bottom and some of it was covered by rocks and soil caused by erosion in the form of crumbling rock, soil and other matter.
As I wrote on a column that spoke of the Sonora Desert (The Valley of the Sun) which found its present form from huge mountains set upon by earthquakes, wind, water that eroded the mountains filling the area to a level so that only the tallest mountains remained visible. The great leveler, erosion, made a sun-filled valley, while the bed rock remains some 2,000 feet below.
The rest of the trip home left me watching the topography of the county as it was set upon by one form of erosion. We have in recent years struggled in the midwest with erosion, planting trees, farming hills on the contour instead of straight back and forth, working to find ways to control rain fall.
Another example of erosion is how the valley acquired the four feet of loess soil. Wind and lots of water brought the soil from various places, leaving the richest soil in Stark county. The bed of Spoon River is also the work of erosion. Water as it traveled from melting glaciers, snow and rain followed a path of least resistance. When the water encountered resistance, it simply moved around it and became a river that wound its way down to merge with the Illinois River. The great rivers, the Mississippi, and the Colorado, were formed by erosion. When you cross the Spoon on highway seventeen going west, look to the right side of the road. The river makes a bend just before it gets to the bridge. The bend just north of the bridge is being eroded so that the bend widens. The water, the great solvent, carries the soil away and deposits it down river.
All of this erosion happened slowly. All of these examples of the great leveler represent years of change. Sun Valley did not suddenly appear, the mountainous area eroded mountains and built up the plain that took millions of years. I doubt if the Valley in Stark county suddenly became filled with four feet of loess.
I often wonder what the writers of the constitution would think of the interpretations of that valued document in this era of our political life. Politicians of every stripe lay claim to an erosion of understanding of the ways we run our country. Change is the same here. The legislative bodies of our land write laws based on a particular interpretation of the constitution. As it is often said, the mills of the gods are exceedingly slow and they grind exceedingly fine.
The squabbling that arises due to differences, does not stop the changes, because the changes that occur are the product of a slow, fine grinding process. We would do well to attend to the ideas of everyone before we condemn. Just as the great leveler, changes the land we live on, so also an erosion changes the way we govern.
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