Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


Notes:

  • Photograph: Raymond Depardon :: Shooting of the film “Un homme sans l’Occident”, Chad, 2001./ src: Magnum Photos  (via Newthom)
  • Background on Caleb/Wednesday/Hump Day Posts and Geico’s original commercial: Let’s Hit it Again

Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


Notes:

Miracle. All of it.

It had snowed overnight, but there were already tracks on the ground. The fine powder had covered the perimeter of spruce and willow and was already starting to melt on the topmost branches when I set out on my expedition. Ahead was a denuded and frozen basin of snowy ridges and gently rising slopes.

The noise of the village had faded, and as I took my first steps onto the plateau, following the contour of the land, an intense squeak escaped from under my boots. It was all I could hear for the next 10 minutes. A muffled, metronomic marriage of snow groaning on sand. After that, I had reached my destination. I had crossed what many believe is the world’s smallest desert.

This was my introduction to one of North America’s most bizarre geological phenomena, the Carcross Desert in Canada’s Yukon. At first glance, it admittedly didn’t look like much. Hardly recognisable as a desert and only 600m wide, best measured end to end by bootprints, it was blanketed in snow, the sand only apparent between cracks in the melted crust. But the details sharpened over time. Closer inspection revealed a miniature kingdom of fine-grain sands, a rare habitat for plants, ungulates and insect species that may be new to science…

The Carcross Desert’s unique genesis is the result of 10,000 years of natural labour. The Yukon was last glaciated during the Wisconsinan McConnell glaciation, she explained, some 11,000 to 24,000 years ago. “Carcross would have had 1km of ice sitting on top of it,” she told me, while hunched over research papers and geological fieldwork studies. “You just can’t picture it.”

As the ice started to melt, lobes of ice began to retreat south, leaving the southern Yukon with heavily scarred valleys. Lipovsky likens this to a vast construction site, as “the ice bulldozed everything”. Over time, massive lakes formed at the snout of the lobes, then when the ice retreated, water levels dropped, leaving beaches and strand lines socked in between the valleys. To finish, sand was hoovered up by fierce winds and blown north-west, giving birth to one of the world’s most unlikely deserts…

To be categorised as an arid desert for scientific purposes, one needs to receive less than 250mm of annual precipitation, while semi-arid deserts receive between 250mm and 500mm. This is the category that Carcross falls into, despite sitting in the rain shadow of the surrounding mountains…

Despite such contradictions, what’s not debated is the sense of awe and sheer amazement the desert inspires. As you enter, its mystery deepens, the tall willow and spruce appearing in ghostly silhouette. Beyond this, surprises wait. Yukon lupine and Baikal sedge flower in summer. Rarely seen coast dart moths and dune tachinidae hover in the skies. Five new species of gnorimoschema, a genus of the moth family, have been discovered. The likelihood is there are more.

All this beauty in one of the Earth’s most unforgiving and complex environments is hard to fathom. This isn’t the Sahara, the Gobi or the Kalahari. But each step across its diminutive dunes makes you realise: this desert is a whole world of wonder unto itself.

Mike MacEacheran, from “The Unlikely Home of the Smallest Desert” (BBC.com Travel, June 22, 2018)


Notes:

  • Thank you Christie!
  • Photo: Dave Brosha with Carcross Desert. “The Carcross Desert, famous for being one the of the smallest “deserts” in North America. Located in Carcross, Yukon, Canada. I really don’t think there’s too many places in the world that combine such a strangely beautiful mix of snow and sand.”
  • Related Posts: Miracle. All of it.

Sunday Morning

 

From the stillness around you a high glassy sound descends, like first light. Each new sound seems to breathe — emerging from and receding back into the stillness — and the glint of bells, like desert plants, here and there. Almost imperceptibly the music swells and continues falling in pitch. From somewhere above — like a gleam of metal, like sunlight emerging from behind a ridgeline — comes the sound of flutes. You are in a strange landscape. You don’t know how to read the weather or the light. You are unsure how long you will be here, or how challenging the journey may be. “This is beautiful,” you think. “But will anything ever happen?”

You resist. Yet the sound draws you in. You resolve to suspend your impatience, to listen as carefully as you can, as if watching a sunrise. You notice your breathing becoming slower. Falling, still falling…The music continues floating upward, growing more and more distant, until at last it dissolves into a deep and resonant stillness.

~ John Luther Adams, from “What It’s Like to Hear the Desert in Music” in   The New York Times, March 23, 2018)


Photo: saoud with Desert

Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


Notes:

Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


Notes:

Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


Notes:

  • Background on Caleb/Wednesday/Hump Day Posts and Geico’s original commercial: Let’s Hit it Again

Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


Notes:

  • Photo of Mark “Yaz” (My former college roommate who’s in Israel on Vacation). Thank you Lorne.
  • Background on Caleb/Wednesday/Hump Day Posts and Geico’s original commercial: Let’s Hit it Again

Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


Notes:

Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


Notes:

  • Photo: Thank you Darlene Jones!
  • Background on Caleb/Wednesday/Hump Day Posts and Geico’s original commercial: Let’s Hit it Again
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