Petrified Forest National Park
Puerco river – 12:22 PM – 12:59 PM
I just sat down on a dead tree in Petrified Forest, looking at the dry riverbed of the Puerco river. This is one of the few that isn’t petrified (yet). It seems like it used to be some kind of poplar. I wonder how long this tree has been lying here. Decay is a really slow process in such dry areas. Maybe it’s been here for 50 years, who knows.
All around me I see yellow flowers of a plant that obviously thrives in this harsh climate. The only animals I see around me right now are insects, and the only thing I hear is wind rustling the plants around me. The wind is quite strong, blowing my hair in my face. The trees around me are showing that winter is coming. They are slowly turning yellow, one a little bit more than the other.
I see an ant making its way through the sand and dead plant materials. I wonder where he’s going. He seems to be all alone, ohh wait, there is a second one. Slowly more and more and appear. I don’t see their house, where would it be? They are scanning the area, but I think that they’re not finding what they are looking for. None of them are picking things up to bring to their home.
Besides the insects there is proof of other animal life. Next to me is a pile of droppings. I’m not sure from what animal, but it is a plant eater for certain. I can tell that from the shape of the droppings, they are pellets (about one centimeter in diameter), and the plant materials in the droppings that were not completely digested.
Next to the riverbed I see many Tamarisk. I read that these were imported from Europe many years ago to create wind bariers. At that time we didn’t see any harm in moving plants and animals to different continents. Now we’ve learned what impact that can have on a ecosystem. The main problem with both plants and animals is that they don’t have any natural predators in their new surroundings. So often the introduced is quick to take over, leaving little room for the natives.
I saw a bird land in a plant in the riverbed. It never showed again. A little while later I hear some birds whistling, but I don’t see them. I think most animals are hiding in whatever shade they can find. Even though it’s October it’s still pretty warm in the afternoon sun. This shows that animals are a lot wiser than humans by now, because here I am burning my back in that hot sun. I’d better get out of the sun for a bit.