There it lay exposed because of what is known as "Kansas Burning" the annual burning of the tall grass prairie. And exposed it lay. As if the rocks were the back bones, perhaps the ribs of the earth, starkly white against the green of the new emerging grasses. To determine these were the Cottonwood limestone in yet another way, one could strike it with some vigor with your hammer, and it has a tone that almost rings! (In my mind, I wondered if a series of the stones could be struck to create a tune of some sort out there on the prairie?)
We paid attention and found evidence of the Neva, the geological formation beneath the Cottonwood, which for some reason was James Aber's favorite, unusual because of its different "look" caused by its relationship with exposure to groundwater. The Permian era strata laid together throughout time and though exposed on the ridges of the Flint Hills, their presence and durability have kept the hills from change the ages might have brought.
The Abers are really a pair, and James looks at the BIG PICTURE, but Susie was reminding us all day to look down and notice the rock samples we might find. I found a doosie! It looked like an arrowhead on one side and a vertebrate on the other, with each side a perfect worry stone to develop. When I was a teenager, I gave my dad his first "worry stone" and he wore it plum through worrying about me.
To get to Emporia, means driving 3 hours through Kansas and seeing the burnt or burning fields, the greening grasses and evidence of oil and gas production. I asked the Abers about fracking and they promptly stated, it isn't the fracking, which by the way was introduced in Kansas, it is the injection wells that cause earthquakes. James explained in 1912 people were looking for domes and anticlines in the quest for oil in the Mississippian and hit granite and gave up. But it looked like they had found it now.
Lots of the middle of the United States were shallow seas and all the marine life through the ages are what later became the Cottonwood formation we studied all that day with the students.
That shallow sea made me think of Great Lakes and that brought me to thinking about how Toledo, Ohio as a city made a decision that may change the way we think about our current water bodies. That city passed a law giving Lake Erie Personhood status. This allows Toledo citizens to act as legal guardians for Lake Erie, and make polluters pay for cleanup costs.
Imagine this for a minute. I am. First thing I will do is bring a resolution to the LEAD Agency Board of Directors at our next meeting, always the last Thursday of the month, which is open to the public, and ask if they would vote on declaring personhood status to Tar Creek. She has had a really hard time, and although she has a Tar Creekkeeper, wouldn't she fair better if she got more respect and our organization, even if the city of Miami, or the town of Commerce might not want to give her personhood status, LEAD Agency could.
We will start with Tar Creek, then we will look at Grand River next. What goes down Tar Creek ends up in our dammed up Grand River doesn't it? AND don't the Spring River and the Neosho when they join form the Grand River? Well on this trip to Kansas, right in the middle of the valley we were following observing the Cottonwood Formation, was the Cottonwood River, which the Abers explained was actually the headwaters for the Neosho River.
After the students gave it up that day, we traveled on to a special place few people get to see, the Kaw Nation's, Memorial, the "People of the Wind" who by treaty left Kansas in 1873 for present day Oklahoma.
The colorful circular memorial reads,
“Wiblaha Wakanda. Bless all who walk here. May we know and respect all your creation and what you have taught our people.”
We looked on quietly with respect and felt the presence of the Kaw as the wind joined and chilled us.
It is wind that was my first introduction to the Abers when they came to NEO several years ago and taught Kite aerial photography (KAP), a form of remote sensing—collecting information about an object from a distance. We took pictures of NEO football stadium with using aerial photography that day. We have one of the fanciest kites ever and can use it to take photos when drones are not allowed.
The wind and the water and people who bring them together remind us to walk gently on this Earth, her bones are showing as we eek more out of her and pollute her streams and foul her air.
For us all Everyday must now be Earth Day.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim