Thursday, 28 November 2002
Pix of the Day: The Reasons Why We Are Here
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The reasons why human habitations are sited at any particular location are always complex. Geographers often like to simplify the answer by pointing to an easy river crossing; a source of drinking or irrigation water; fertile soil; or nodal position among places already established. All these reasons are valid, but the totality of the answer is usually more complex.
The mass migration of the members of the LDS Church (Mormons) from their settlements along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers to avoid persecution was a precondition for their occupation of the Great Basin. Their desire to build a new society as part of their own 'Manifest Destiny' caused the spread into what is now the southern part of the State of Utah. What you see in the picture is an alluvial, or water borne, bench created in pre-history by the rainfall run off carrying soil and nutrients from the high ground of the Colorado Plateaus. After the bench was created the climate changes that followed meant that although the ground was capable of growing crops there was insufficient rainfall to make it fertile. To make that happen the Pioneers had to dig a 12 mile canal from the higher reaches of the Virgin River to bring the life giving waters onto the Hurricane Bench.
The green fields you see in the picture are the over riding reason why we are here. Beyond the picture to the right the land becomes desert again, covered with low scrub. Directly ahead, beyond the green field, the water pumping windmill towers showing whitely are in the Deseret Orchards owned by the LDS church. Beyond the orchards the Hurricane Fault rises to form the edge of the Colorado Plateaus, which is a massive and arid maze of complex geological faulting and erosion, unified only by the mighty Colorado River from where John Wesley Powell derived the name.
The particular reason I am here, as opposed to the generic reasons why we collectively are here, will be back home soon. Like the people in the aeroplanes that created the vapor trails in the picture as they headed for Las Vegas, she will be expecting an ice cold Martini ("Hearts full of youth, Hearts full of truth, Three parts gin to one part vermouth", as Tom Lehrer sang) to be waiting in a frosted glass when she arrives. Excuse me, I have important work to do. Happy Thanksgiving!
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Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)
"Ah! que la vie est quotidienne."
Oh, what a day-to-day business life is.
'Complainte sur certains ennuis' (1885)