If you are ignorant of something, it may become invisible. If you know nothing about flowers and you have no particular interest, you make walk past a wondrous floral bed and glance to see a haze of brilliant colour and may even to think to yourself ‘pretty, lovely display’ but if someone asked you about what you’d just seen you’d reply… um… bright red and purple stuff… looked wonderful…You could say nothing about the number of petals or their shape, or the position of the leaves on the stem, let alone what sort of flower it was or what family it belonged to.
Stone is all around us; it’s the paving we walk on, it’s the buildings we live and work in, the structures we pass by. We go site-seeing and marvel at the architecture or the rock formations, or sculpture, but most of us know very little if anything about stone and rocks. Granite work surfaces, marble fire surrounds, slate roofs, sandstone, limestone, chalk, flint… we know the names and maybe even something about how some of them were made, sedimentary, igneous, metamorphic… But for the most part, we don’t see rocks and stone, they are invisible.
Yesterday I went out for a writing walk with two writing friends, as I mentioned. The geologist whipped off my metaphorical blindfold and suddenly I saw wonders! I was dazzled – almost literally by sparkly things, but mentally with all I was told – names, formation, age, characteristic, the genealogy of the geology… I could see how what was beneath the surface affected what was growing on the surface – a stand of trees in one place growing above a seam of something, a meadow somewhere else growing on something different… the words elude me now, but I marvelled. Gullies and ridges, valleys and tumbles of rock, rocks within rocks – quartz embedded in something, sandstone in something else, a whole patchwork of wonder!
I took photos, not only to remember but to inspire…
… yes the October sky really was that blue, yes the rock face in the quarry really was that red and the foliage that green, I’ve done nothing to change it.
I became fascinated by the Mercia Mudstone.. I had never heard of it before – I’d heard of Mercia of course, one of the kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy and generally thought of the midlands area, stretching from roughly where the M62 runs, west of the A1 and north of a line between north-west Kent and round about where we live now, in north Somerset… Our mudstone is in a band across Somerset and South Wales; there is another area where it is present south of us, in what is known as the Wessex Basin, and to the north of us in the Worcester/Knowle Basins.
Mercia Mudstone a glorious ox-blood red (what we saw was) – is a collection of calcareous clays and mudstones; there are also apparently beds of impersistent green siltstone and fine-grained sandstone. Aren’t the names wonderful! Mercia Mudstone must be an important lady in the local Women’s Institute, and Impersistent Green Siltstone was probably a puritan with the strictest and most repressive of moral codes – do you think his wife called him Percy?
I have many images and memories, but the vocabulary escapes me.. I must ask my writing geologist!
Here is more about Mercia Mudstone: