An Endless Blanket of Green: The Palouse in Spring
Eastern Washington State
The sinuous hills of the Palouse in eastern Washington display the work, over the course of the millennia of natural history, of glaciers grinding away rocks into fine dust which then collected in a huge ancient lake that then flooded, sculpting the land, which, over additional, subsequent millennia, collected dust and silt to make it as fertile as it is graceful. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Frank Norris told in his classic novel, The Octopus, how one of his characters gazed upon fields of wheat elsewhere and saw a fundamental force of life, the wheat with an energy of its own that fed humanity with “colossal power”: “And there before him, mile after mile, illimitable, covering the earth from horizon to horizon, lay the Wheat.” Look at the landscape and you see ancient history. Look at the blanket of wheat and you see “a mighty force, the strength of nations, the life of the world.”
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