Spheres of tumbleweed

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Love’s response to that question was ‘What do you suppose?” We had seen-a mile or two away-a hole in the ground eleven miles long, four miles wide, and deeper than the Yellow Sea. There were some puddles in it, but it did not happen to intersect any kind of aquifer, and basically it was dry. With a talent for understatement, the people of Laramie call it the Big Hollow. Geologists call it a deflation basin, a wind-scoured basin, or-more succinctly-a blowout. The wind at the Big Hollow, after finding its way into some weak Cretaceous shales, had in short order dug out four million acrefeet and blown it all away. Wind not only makes such basins but maintains them-usually within frameworks of resistant rock. On the Laramie Plains, the resistant rock is heavy quartzite gravel-Precambrian pieces of the Snowy Range which were brought to the plains as the beds of Pleistocene rivers. Wet or dry, all the lakes we passed had been excavated by the wind. It was a bright cloudless morning with a spring breeze. Spheres of tumbleweed, tumbling east, came at us on the interstate at high speed, like gymfuls of bouncing basketballs d1ibbled by the dexterous wind. “It’s a Russian thistle,” Love said. “It’s one of nature’s marvels. As it tumbles, seeds are exploded out.” Across the green plains, the Medicine Bow Mountains and the Snowy Range stood high, sharp, and clear, each so zakelijke energie unlike the other that they gave the impression of actually being two ranges: in the middle distance, the flat-crested Medicine Bows, dark with balsam, spruce, and pine; and, in the far high background, the white and treeless Snowy Range. That the one was in fact directly on top of the other was a nomenclatural Tower of Babel that contained in its central paradox the narrative of the Rockies: the burial of the ranges, the subsequent uplifting of the entire region, the exhumation of the mountains. As if to emphasize all that, people had not only named this single mountain range as if it were two but also bestowed upon the highest summit of the Snowy Range the name Medicine Bow Peak. It was up there making its point, at twelve thousand thirteen feet. We passed a stone ranch house a century old, and a set of faded ruts in the rangeland that were older than the house. This was the Overland Trail, abandoned in i868 after seven dismal years. “A nasty route,” Love remarked. “Steep grades. Many rocks. Poor water. Poor grass. It was three days across the Laramie Plains at ten miles a day. It was often muddy and boggy. A disaster.” When, in the orogeny, the Medicine Bow Mountains were shoved a few miles zakelijke energie vergelijken east, the rock in front of them folded. The anticlines among the folds formed traps for migrating fluids. All about us were pump jacks bobbing for .oil.