Sunday, April 4, 2010
The Enigma of Perfection
Bloodroot flower, roadside bank, Seagraves Road, Coventry, Connecticut, Easter Sunday.
The bloodroot flowers are sparsely scattered just below the stone-wall edging the road. They are confined to this one small area. Sanguinaria canadensis, a member of the poppy family, is highly toxic, though used in folk medicine.
Beyond the wall is a section of State Forest. The whole area consists of Hebron gneiss. This metamorphic rock shows marked layering as a result of the heat and pressure associated with its formation from the deposits laid down on the Iapetus Ocean floor. Tectonic processes created a volcanic island arc off the coast of Proto North America (Laurentia) in the Iapetus Ocean some 440 million years ago (mid to late Ordovician). The arc survives as the Bronson Hill formation. The local section of the arc is the hills at Bolton Notch to the west of Coventry. The tectonic process pushed the island arc onto the Laurentia coast and in the process turned the back-bay deposits of the Iapetus Ocean into a complex Taconic mountain range. The same sort of process occurred when the Kohistan-Ladakh island arc was pushed against the Eurasian coast to form the Karakoram metamorphic complex 70 million years ago (see Himlayan Portfolios p7. p181,p184.) Erosion from the Taconic mountains, with their island arc outer edge, discharged great quanities of silt into the Iapetus Ocean creating a new continental shelf. These Ordovician and Silurian deposits became the shist and later the gneiss of the Eastern Connecticut Highland Terrain. The Iapetus ocean closed when the micro continent of Avalonia was added to the east coast of North America prior to the formation of the Pangaea super continent.
A minor fault line runs through the forest creating sections of cliff that sometimes overhang. My favorite walk, starting from Seagraves road, is to follow deer trails in a haphazard manner just using the lay of the land as a guide and moving towards Coventry lake. A minor scramble up a cliff is an optional extra. The winter provides crisp snow that makes the deer trails easy to find. Soon the opening leaves will make these non-paths invisible and it will be advisable to follow the established trails. But now the woods have their own special music. Since the 15th of March the frogs in the swampy areas have been creating a joyous racket of chirps, trills, gulps and quacks.