Pleistocene To Be Believed

Not being a particularly clever girl, there are many things that I can't 'wrap my head around', as the kids say.  For instance:

Dresses worn with jeans

A wealth of things confuse and mystify me.

Lately something else has appeared, to be added to the list of perennials above.  A few weeks ago this story broke.  Now I understand dinosaurs.  I understand the Ice Ages, I get the Eras:  the Palaeozoic, the Mesozoic; as well as the Epochs:  Pleistocene and Palaeolithic.  What I still can't fathom, however, is that the creatures that thundered through these distant years did so right where my apartment is standing.

There are times when a thing is so marvelous, so vast, so far beyond and above, that the imagination is dazzled.  Sometimes the mind's eye has to blink.

I find it hard to believe that the bodies of monsters lie trapped and broken beneath the sidewalk I travel on to work, every day.  Dire wolves used to hunt in packs across the gardens of my neighborhood, tearing the bellowing throats out of their prey.  Now they are suffocated and silent, compressed under tons of sediment and waste.


The creaking I hear in my house could be the earth's memory rising into the air, full of the distant shuddering footsteps of mammoths, trying to balance tusks ten feet long.  They held no thought for their future generations harnessed in circuses, killed for necklaces of ivory beads.  They sank, with cries that shaped mountains, into mires of tar less than a mile from where I type this.


I live on the second level of my building.  Long ago, the closest we ever came to dragons plowed through an extinct world, tall enough to break through my floor.  A languid turn of its tail would shatter the plaster walls beneath me, embarrassing man's work.  Now their fires are out, and they sleep inside the earth.

I can't believe that the denizens of prehistoric pastures have been found beneath the parking lot of the May Company, where Mother and I had walked on our way to finding reasonably priced fashion items!  I am stunned with the image of fields, possessing an endless perspective, muddied and devoured by creatures ignorant of the part they were playing in the world's breathing, bloody evolution.  When my thoughts rest, I see their dim eyes, at the eve of the the creation of intelligence, when the earth struggled in its swaddling clothes.   

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19 responses to “Pleistocene To Be Believed

  1. Absolutely amazing. So hard to believe, isn't it?!You live in an interesting neighbourhood!

  2. What a magnificent post! I think I have a chrush on your imagination 🙂

  3. Aubrey, your written expression is stunning. This is Aubrey magic at its best!

  4. You know Audrey, I'll never understand mathematics. But dresses worn with jeans, I'm right up there.

  5. I think I just called you Audrey, yes I, sorry. I was walking up the hallway and thought, I think I just wrote Audrey – must go back and check!

  6. sorry, another p.s. I've turned into a stalker now. However, my son (who is 19) is a mathematical genius. And he told me one day that he sees the world mathematically. I could only imagine what that must look like!!

  7. Your title is the cherry on the top of this rather wonderful cake.

  8. In-freakin-credible!

  9. As a child, I dreamt of being a paleontologist. When my parent's friends asked what I wanted to be, that's what I'd say. Then I'd have to tell the adults what it was. So I've always loved the La Brea tar pits and the secrets they hold, of life and of death. Thanks for honoring these pleisto-beasts. I love it!

  10. Wow, that is SO Awesome! Makes me wonder if there are creatures buried deep below my own home. Nothing as old as your neighborhood though.

  11. I won't listen to the wind howling the same way ever again. Lovely.
    In our first grad school field trip we were taken to some clay pits; we talked about the possibliity of a wooly mammoth trapped beneath our very feet. Just imagine…..

  12. crickets? interesting. why?

  13. If we really wrap our heads around these things, we will, inevitably, find ourselves rather insignificant compared with the whole life and history of the Universe and so many extinct creatures that crawled before us on this planet. Our little "selves", all of a sudden, are not so immortal any more. Just imagine, some creatures, after us being long gone from this planet (assuming the earth didn't implode in the next 100 years), would have the same wondering: I cannot believe something so ancient once lived underneath all my "stuff".

  14. Amazing, beautiful, brilliant. I have to admit I had the same kind of thoughts in a castle in Kyoto – the amount of people who had fought and died near those very walls. Of course I could never communicate it as amazingly as you just did…

  15. Love this post: I don't think I've ever found a fossil, but I am conscious that the land I'm sitting on now was once the site of a large Lakota Indian encampment. Sometimes when the city is working on the storm sewers or drains in our neighborhood, they'll find an arrowhead or some shards of pottery—probably the Lakota's garbage pile. But it does make one feel rather tiny and insignificant when one realizes she's just the surface over layers and layers of history, not just of a century ago, but eons.

  16. Suga' – And I thought my current neighbors were loud!
    fatcat – Oh, stop. Aubrey blushes easily.
    Kate – Thank you, my darling!
    Riss – Thanks – such praise is certainly ar-Riss-ting.
    cat – Ah, mathematics. I got hold of some old report cards; from when I was 7, 8 years old, and already it was my worst subject. I think my inherent misunderstanding is part of my DNA.
    Jando – The title jumped, unbidden, into my head – and I thanked goodness for it.
    JP – I so wished they were accepting volunteers to do the grunt work – carrying away dirt, passing chisels, knives – anything! I would have jumped at the chance.
    Lavender – They were everywhere, roaming where you take your lovely photographs, too.
    Ellie – Imagine? It makes my head spin; yet it did happen: there is no more formidable pairing than imagination and reality.
    WBaby – I am terrified of crickets. Why? I'm getting closer to an explanation, yet it isn't complete. I still don't understand. Yet, I still hate them.
    Singing Horse – There have been so many layers before us, and each just as significant.
    Bold As Love – YES. I too visit castles, and having the advantage of hindsight – that is a background in history – the knowledge makes the experience all the more magnificent.
    Hangaku – Tractors and goodness knows what else found these bones as they were digging up the old parking lot – the mammoth skull was almost completely destroyed. Everything had to be cut out quickly and moved ASAP, because the art museum didn't fancy waiting, and getting behind their building schedule.
    purple – I don't think it's any accident that the noun 'wonder' and the verb 'wondering' have the same source.

  17. What a lovely new way of thinking of the ground below our feet.

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