“Everything is related” and “The circle of life” are phrases used by my husband to describe life. If you watch the Discovery channel or Animal Planet, you are bound to watch a program with Scientists speaking on the topic of Evolution.
When I was a little girl, the highlight of any weekend was my father packing pick & hammer, creek shoes and gloves, while mom made sandwiches for a picnic. Driving the car onto the ferry boat meant we had an hour to enjoy the scenery and watch the wooden, stern, paddle wheel, push the water, skirting us closer to the other side. I remember wondering, “How long it would take me to swim the Susquehanna River?”
Navigating to dad’s favorite fossil hunting spot took some time, but once we arrived, the hunt was on….for the best specimen of a trilobite, fern or other prehistoric creatures. Needless to say, although my eyes were sharp, my brothers were sharper and he found a beauty of a trilobite, which I to this day have not superseded- older brothers anyway!
My other favorite place to be on the weekends was the woods. The forest holds such a scope for the imagination and mine ran wild as I laid in a bed of soft ferns while looking upwards to the heavens- through the bows of the leafy foliage the sky looked such a fabulous blue. Turning over on my belly, I closely examined fiddle-heads, the young shoots of a frond, spiraled with delight. Besides being my favorite color, green makes me feel good.
In my high school years, when girls were primping and couldn’t go out of the house without make-up, I continued taking a shine to the study of rocks and fossils. My mother and I went on a trip to South Dakota to rebuild structures on a reservation- during my down time, I was exploring the new terrain and running the buttes. During one of many sweltering runs, I found an ammonite laying on the side of the hill, still ½ in the ground. I certainly wasn’t expecting to find such a fine specimen, which held the mother-of-pearl luster, in the SAND (the center of this piece represents the fossilized internal chambers visible in the cross section, minus the playfulness of my color). 240 years ago, the predatory squid like sea creature moved by jet propulsion, expelling water through a funnel-like opening to propel themselves in the opposite direction.
Upon graduating from college with a teaching degree, during my first year as a fifth grade teacher, I was very excited to learn of a continuing education course offered from North Dakota State University which involved biology, botany, zoology and geology- I rolled the dice and scored a YATZEE when I signed up. I couldn’t be happier with the results. We traveled four states in 2 weeks learning about everything from the cottonwoods in Theodore Roosevelt National Park of ND to spelunking in Wind Cave of SD to climbing Devils Tower in WY. When we arrived to Glendive MT we went fossil hunting and continued through the back, back roads where not even an oil rig could be found….but we found ammonites and a good work out on the walk back.
In light of the spiral thread that runs through all three, plant, mollusk and cephalopod, I chose to showcase them together in this design. To this day, I ponder the truth and history of their existence.