Glacial Erratic

On my Saturday morning walk, I passed a boulder that I must have gone by a million times before (there are a LOT of rocks and boulders around here). It is at the corner of the circular road at the botanical gardens. The boulder is a plain, dull gray, nondescript, raked by invisible claws by some incredible force. I could barely read the faded identification sign next to it, but it said: “Glacial Erratic.”

I stood up straight. I had never heard this term before. It brought all kinds of visions. Just what is a “glacial erratic?”

Turns out this poor rock is not from these here parts. It had been determined to have originated from the northwest, when some middle earth hollow burped out this chunk of magma to cool and nestle near its kind. Unfortunately, it was in the path of one of the great glaciers that either gouged, covered, smothered, or pushed everything in its path, including the boulder I was looking at on a Saturday morning in August 2008.

This sort of thing gets me going. How long did it take to push it across the continent? How many days under the hot sun, how many star-lit nights did its blind face lie under before it arrived here, where people pass by every day, not realizing the force of nature that brought it to the corner of this anonymous road? People sit on it like it was a bench to rest; others pop a foot on top of it to retie a sneaker. Do they know it is a glacial erratic, that erratically was shoved out of its natal home by a giant ice cube? It fascinates me, almost to the point of feeling uncomfortable; like, what other amazing things are going on under my nose, millimeter by millimeter, that I am blind to? Creation is a light almost too brilliant to look at; the oak from the seed, the migratory flight of a hummingbird, a drifting cloud. You could well lose yourself in it, which, I suppose, would not be a bad thing, and where it will all end anyway.

This entry was posted in boulder, glacial erratic, glacier, ice. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Glacial Erratic

  1. RevMomVt says:

    Next time you are in VT, we will go to the Echo Center in Burlington. You can learn more about erratic rocks and other very cool geological things. BTW – re: the wonder of creation. Creation also includes (in my book) going from flying machines to living on Space Station — technology that ranges from Royal typewriters (where the keys get stuck together) to handheld computers you can pop in your pocket and still link with the internet — medical science that continually uncovers the breadth of wonder…saving umbilical cord blood and its stem cells as insurance down the road for treatment if needed. It’s all wonderful and all creation!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’ve never seen that boulder…I love the moraine garden at NJBG, which is a garden of smaller rocks and boulders hefted against their will by the glacier, over where the hosta and rhododendron are. But “glacial erratic”. What a great phrase…it would be a good book title! Kim

  3. Sparverius says:

    Thanks for sharing this little (very, very old) discovery.

  4. Tom says:

    How very interesting! Brings back memories of my freshman earth science class–and all those great terms: glacial till (what most rocks around here are), terminal moraines (Long Island is one), eskers, aretes, drumlins–all related to glaciers somehow. Thanks for the memories.

  5. That’s really interesting.It does make one wonder how many things we miss each day that we have walked by hundreds of times.

  6. Anonymous says:

    You are the awesome one!! Dd

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