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Confluence - Moisture and Time
October 2019
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Aspen trees need a lot of water; they grow along stream corridors, sprouting from extended roots into groves that are essentially single trees with hundreds of trunks. Chlorophyll in their trunks boosts production of new leaves in spring, but being thin-barked also makes them useful for signage. Sierra sheepherders from the early 20th century left many carved records, while bears and other animals also use aspens to communicate their presence. A stream-corridor codex of columnar pages?
 
At a bend in Pyramid Creek, this cacophony of signs may attest to our abiding wish for connection to place, or inversely perhaps, to an anxiety with solitude. These aren't the exquisitely practiced quill lettering on parchment of my last post, but they express the convergence of landscape forces and standard alphabets at the heart of the Confluence project. Both line and place have equal play.

It seems another TG preceded me! But I have also preceded myself, as I return to the area where I observed peak snowmelt in May. I'm looking at how water's presence has changed over the summer.
 
Refreshing coolness and vitality, dampness and rot - moisture's pathways run in physical and metaphorical channels simultaneously. River, the word, flows from rift and ruin in Norse and Greek, through precipice and embankment to the water itself in Latin, French and English. The complex transparency of running water: to be named for the gaps and breaks it occupies and creates.
 
Where moisture seasonally disappears, some plants store their growth in fleshy bulbs and close up shop above ground. Dried leaves protect the ground from winter temperatures, and the bulb's starches power new leaves again as warmth returns in spring.
 
Rings in a granite pothole are also marks of water and time - but how? Eleven straight days of dust and hot weather? a rambling rock or stick of wood? And why so evenly spaced?

Stream flows rise and fall subtly each twenty-four hours, as transpiring trees suck ground water, and evaporation from water to air lowers flows on warm days. Would the daily water-breath of this channel register in rings, an "O, O, O" babble of this mountain brook?

Anyone able to read this, I would love to hear from you!
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All images by Todd Gilens and copyright 2019, unless noted otherwise.

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