latitude, 28˚ 33 min. 25.9086 sec. longitude, -114˚ 6 min. 7.1526 sec.

desert varnished, wind-eroded stones on steel

21 cm x 25 cm

latitude, 28˚ 33 min. 25.9086 sec. longitude, -114˚ 6 min. 7.1526 sec. detail - click to enlarge

|this object is not for sale|

Hardly anyone gives this object a second look — and it happens to be one of my favorites: four wind-scoured stones from one of the most other-worldly places I’ve ever been blessed to place my feet. A landscape so dream-like, and so unbelievably fragile, that after a dozen steps I halted — and pledged to go no further.

At first glance, the surface of this low volcanic plateau set back from the Pacific Ocean appeared almost lunar, a landscape so modest in appearance I was fooled into thinking it was less than it was, with its flat monochromatic dusting of manganese and iron, the humble stature of its plants, and the apparent lack of birds, insects or water. The terrain was so convincingly disguised, it took all twelve of those clumsy, crashing steps to realize I’d stumbled into one of the most astonishingly fragile and ecologically elegant environments I’d ever encountered.

It was a windswept land of fantastic shapes and exquisite detail. Hiding in the wind-eddies created by sand-blasted stones, ocotillos twenty-feet-long and only inches high contoured the ground like spiny teardrops. Hidden colonies of lush green algae filtered the harsh desert light marooned beneath the milky lenses of polished quartz cobbles. Dozens of lichen species, some like spun-gold filigree, hung like wind tattered pennants from the skeletons of long dead trees. Looking around, I came to believe that the only footfalls this place had ever felt were left by ghosts.

Standing on the edge of this forgotten place, I had a profound feeling of time-full-ness, a sense that the only thing that ever happened here was the passage of time. The wind blew, sand scoured the rocks, day and night came and went, and from time to time, a dream or prayer fluttered in over the dark ocean like a lost and injured bird — only to be caught by thorns, and torn to pieces by the wind.

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