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  • Writer's pictureSarahHauer

Meanwhile, in Death Valley...

There is a place where rocks and boulders seemingly move in a sychronized pattern for no discernible reason. How can that be?

There is a dry lakebed called Racetrack Playa littered with rocks and boulders fallen from the surrounding mountains. The Joshua trees look on from a distance as the rocks and boulders stubbornly refuse to budge from the dry silty puddle that urges them to move on.

And yet, they have been moved. There are trails proving that those very boulders, some hundreds of pounds in weight, have slowly made their way, simultaneously at times, across the silt. Bit by bit, millimeters at a time, for only minutes of time over the course of years, the stubborn boulders have moved. How is that possible?

Did semi trucks drive out onto the delicate landscape to force the monoliths to give? No. Did God send forth an earthquake to compel them to get off the delicate silt? Nope. Did aliens hover over them and use their advance technology to propel them forward across the area they want to use to secretly exploit earthly resources? Nuh uh.

So what gives? What is capable of moving these obstinate invaders across the delicate terrain?

Why are they there in the first place? Did they want to be forced from their rocky homes to sit exposed to the elements amongst conditions that don't match their own physical structure?

Except, they do match. The tiny molecules of silt are rocks too. Maybe the dry silt is acting on the boulders forming a glue or concrete that holds the rocks in place. Are they stuck? Or are they afraid to move? What has a force strong enough to give them a shove?

Turns out, that force originates from three sources that can be rough and can be gentle. It is when they are gentle that they accomplish the most to propel the rocks along. They are water, wind, and sun.

Death Valley is a dry place. Racetrack Playa is a dry lakebed. Most of the time, anyway. Once in a while, conditions change. Rain falls bringing change to the playa, giving the silt a refreshing bath. When that bath is about three inches deep and the nighttime temperatures drop as happens in a desert terrain, a layer of ice form. As the sun rises, it shines on the ice and breaks it up into sheets gently floating on the surface of the shallow lake.

Then comes the wind, in the form of a breeze, that brushes along the tops of the ice sheets. Together, the water in the form of ice and the wind collaborate against the rocks and boulders pushing them bit by bit across the lake. Movement happens. Change takes place.

The rocks are moved forward and will never again return to their previous positions. This is how stubbornness is changed: the collaboration of gentle forces over time.

Have you ever met with an obstacle and wondered what force existed strong enough to move it?

Thanks for reading!


Humor In Chaos



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