The Witness Tree
More than four billion years ago a lava flow of pink granite emerged from the earth's hot core to become a source of some of the oldest rocks on the planet. Its highest volcanic mountain was taller than anything today at 40,000 feet. Now known as the Canadian Shield, it weathered away over billions more years until inching glaciers formed and descended with a weight that forced great spars of granite up from their beds. Over thousands more years, the ice edged south, tumbling the cracked and fractured rock into millions of abraded pieces. When the climate warmed again, enough landed here to give hard work to farmer Ward.
Probing the tree close to the base of its trunk, I saw a trace of pinkish granite no larger than two knuckles of my hand. It grew with each thrust of the digging stick until a 200-pound antique stone lay exposed ... pink granite from the tall mountain, enfolded like an infant in the bare arms of two great oak roots. A pair of old survivors comfortable in each other's company, I reflected in silent awe, a picture of patience and natural dignity.
It was a Cranbrook Park puffball I had eaten for breakfast that morning in my omelet. Its firm white flesh sliced easily into sections like eggplant, and, fried in butter, it added an earth flavor to the toothsome mushrooms I picked the day before by Malletts Creek.
[Originally published in November, 2012.]