As I make headway in processing the images of Craters of the Moon Monument the strange-ness of the place continues to astound me. My life has been surrounded by tree, grass, water and soil, differing in type between the various places I’ve lived but always a constant reminder of the presence of biology in the world and its victories in the battle with geology. But here – never have I encountered such as this where the very ground has been mangled and shattered, left tortured by the discharges deep from within the earth. As if geology has mounted a terrible offensive, striking in a great blow to push biology back beyond its ability to recover.
And yet biology finds a way, an irresistible force slowly advancing onto ground previously lost, taking back territory an inch at a time. Geology may have time on its side but biology has vitality, eagerness to replenish using the resources found in geology’s own camp.
First a beachhead populated by the small, tough succulents capable of enduring the extremes of temperature from day to night and the scarcity of moisture at all times. These foot soldiers claim the nooks and crannies of the granular debris from erosion’s relentless efforts on geology. Over time, with this line of advancing troopers, the larger players arrive on the scene, populating the claimed ground with grasses, shrubs and trees. It is a slow advance, sporadic and halting, but inevitable.
Eventually, a manner of truce may emerge, each side holding what it has for the time while regrouping and developing new strategies to advance. In our brief time here we may never see a conclusive victory by one side or the other – to us the terrain may appear stagnate and unchanging. Nonetheless, the battle continues, each combatant patient in the knowledge that deep time plays in their favor in some way. But for now, during this seeming holding action, the victims find their own form of peace.