New Mexico was once at the bottom of a great sea.
Over millions of years, carbon creatures died and drifted to the bottom of that sea and became preserved in silt. Layer upon layer of silt turned to stone and the fragile bodies of once living creatures became captured and preserved. My Geologist brother Neal likes nothing better than hiking mountains, looking for geological treasure chests and opening them to find fossil pieces of eight.
This morning we return to a quarry he was introduced to in junior high school.
A teacher brought he and a friend here to scrape away layers of shale and discover ferns, brachiapods, and other marine life. These days a teacher wouldn’t risk the field trip but that trip set two kids into lifelong careers.
As I look up at the quarry walls this morning i can easily see geological epochs as they were deposited in layers. Even a foot thick layer took thousands of years to form..
Neal knows the layers we are looking for on this dig and finds us a promising hunting spot in the side of a crumbling bank in mountains that used to be under water.
Hawks fly over us on a clear cool fall morning and we have brought our small cardboard boxes for specimens, rock hammers, scrapers, newspapers for wrapping what we find, bottles of water, a few apples and sunflower seeds, and lots of hope.
Any day you can poke into pre- history and find something only you are seeing for the first time in 250 million years, it is a good day.