Monday, October 3, 2011
Traffic jam naturalist
It's six miles from my house to the beach, winding down from an elevation of 720 feet above sea-level at our village fire station. The descent goes through what we all call the "S" curves, which are a dizying spiral with sheer clif walls on one side and a drop to the creek hundred of feet below on the other side.
When traffic's moving fast, it's a road that demands all your concentration. Topanga families go through a rite of passage, as kids learn to drive this road. There's nothing that builds more trust than sitting in the passenger seat, your foot firmly pressing the floorboards, while your teenager steers the car down the "S" curves!
But when there's a traffic jam, you find yourself with the rare opportunity to sit quietly and study nature as it's presented to you.
Out the driver' side, a spectacular illustration of the earth's geologic force, as shattered and tilted layers of coarse sandstone sediment alternate with shale and other rocks.
If you're a passenger in a swift-moving car, it's dizzying to peer out the window and watch the rocks rushing past. But as a driver, stopped in a traffic jam, you finally get a chance to see everything in close-up detail.