Dust to dust….

I had just crossed the empty stream-bed in Little Cottonwood Canyon and was making my way toward where I knew the trail was located…when I heard the sound of falling water.  To the left of this little waterfall is where I found the moss and other tiny plant life that I featured in my post “Life on a Rock.”

I had visited the same area in the past and wasn’t aware of any other streams nearby…but the canyon was/is still full of things that I haven’t seen, little treasures tucked-away beneath wind-blown trees, lying in the shadows of whole and broken boulders of fallen granite, and ever-changing scenes of Nature’s drama of unfolding life and death.  In my searching for the falling water, I had to go off-trail and deeper into the wild of the canyon forest.  Amid the waking plant life and the blanket of the previous season’s fallen leaves, I found what appeared to be the skeleton of a deer or other medium-sized vertebrate.

A great mind once posited that matter can neither be created nor destroyed…it simply changes form…becomes something other than what it was as the result of some greater force acting upon it.  As we find beauty in a decaying building, crumbling walls of barns and castles, trees whithering and rotting back into the forest floors of their cradles and graves, I believe we can find an equal beauty in the physical remains of a once living and breathing being as it returns to its elemental form where it will nourish the tiny creatures and plants that share its environment…for such is the stuff of life and death…regeneration…coming together in a new and other form….

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24 responses

  1. I found the skeleton of a white tailed deer recently but didn’t take pictures of it because I wasn’t really sure what I’d say about it on the blog. Finding such things is a part of nature that anyone who spends time in the woods has become accustomed to, and you’ve explained why it is important for us to see these hidden things much better than I could have.

    June 11, 2012 at 8:15 am

    • It seems that we have a similar appreciation for such things, Allen…it’s nice to be in good company. And thank you for your kind words. 🙂

      June 11, 2012 at 8:20 am

  2. Very true. I love to explore natures world and I find such beauty in decay buildings, broken/old furniture, walls, rusted metals etc.I think who were the inhabitants? Why they left? If its an animal I wonder, was it hunted, or was it a survival issue between to animals, its just so interesting to find things like this! I need to get back into that part of my photography. Plants, tress, fossils, treasure finds, and just write down a journal about mother nature! Great images…

    June 11, 2012 at 8:37 am

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it, Lazaro…will look forward to your return to that part of your photography…and thank you for your nice words. 🙂

      June 11, 2012 at 8:23 pm

  3. wow loved the shots,they are all rocks one way or another…ruins are always more interesting ..they in their unique way remind us of the fragile thing called life
    Beautiful 🙂

    June 11, 2012 at 9:09 am

    • I like your words, Soma…thank you. 🙂

      June 11, 2012 at 8:24 pm

  4. Lovely pictures and interesting words Scott! Smashing post.

    June 11, 2012 at 10:34 am

    • Thank you, Chillbrook. 🙂

      June 11, 2012 at 8:24 pm

  5. It is always good when you find new things by going off the main trail isn’t it. I love travelling on different roads now, I try and avoid the freeways and highways when I am in the mood for taking photos.

    June 11, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    • Yes, it is nice finding new things when going off the trail, Leanne…and while taking the freeway will get us there quickly, it’s much nicer to take the slower route that is more appealing to the eye…and heart.

      June 11, 2012 at 8:26 pm

  6. Interesting photos and words, Scott.

    June 11, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    • Thank you, Victoria. 🙂

      June 11, 2012 at 8:26 pm

  7. A beautiful post, Scott. Thank you!

    June 11, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    • You’re most welcome, Melanie…and thank You, too. 🙂

      June 11, 2012 at 8:27 pm

  8. I love this. Changing form, yes.

    June 12, 2012 at 6:21 am

    • Thank you, Helen. 🙂

      June 12, 2012 at 6:31 am

  9. Your words are so revealing and a reminder that we are all passing through. A great set of images. I love the first for its drama and suggestion of scale, form and pattern. You write and photograph with wisdom and expertise.

    June 13, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    • You are very kind, John…thank you for your nice words. I’m glad you enjoyed the images and I thank you for the technical feedback…very much appreciated.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:03 pm

  10. I like the streams. You have inspired me to go back and pull some old shots of Maroon Bells here in Colorado. I will try to post them within the next week or so. Nice shots!

    June 13, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    • Thank you, Bob…for visiting and for letting me know you were here. I’ll look forward to seeing your photos. 🙂

      June 13, 2012 at 8:50 pm

  11. I was fascinated by dead creatures when I was a kid, a thrush flying into our classroom window and killing itself created huge fascination for me and all the other 11 year old boys in the class. So as soon as the bell signalled the end of school for the day we rushed out to look at it.

    That fascination is still there in a different way, and you’re right, the process of decay and transformation is intrinsically fascinating and at the same time essential to all our survival. It’s an exquisitely elegant solution to what would otherwise be an enormous problem and provides a fundamental driver for the whole biosphere.

    Spectacular streams too 🙂

    June 16, 2012 at 2:34 pm

  12. Maybe it’s common to all of us little boys..something that strikes an inner chord of curiosity and amazement at once. I think you are correct, as well, Finn…we would be in quite a mess if nothing ever died…and I like your words about it being an exquisitely elegant solution to that mess….

    June 16, 2012 at 6:25 pm

  13. Chiming in again late, as usual lately, Scott, but I’d like to add my compliments on a very nice post and your pholosophical circle of life musings. Many of us would be much better off if we’d take the time to take a step back from the “normal” routine and spend some time on the contemplation of our–and all other living beings’–place in the larger picture.

    As an item of possible added interest, I believe that what you’ve found there is the remains of a young moose, judging from the piece of antler in photo #6. If you’re interested, I’m pretty confident in the following ID: Photo 4 (“Bone and Leaves”) — probably a scapula, or shoulderblade. Photo 5 — tibia (shin bone) on the left and part of the pelvis on the right. Photo 6 — antler at the upper left and sacrum (a fusion of the four vertebrae that form the junction between the main spinal column and the bones of the tail and help to connect the two halves of the pelvis). Photo 7 — another angle on the sacrum. I’m mildly tempted to add that the youngster had a limp in his left hind leg and a couple of ticks behind his right ear, but i wouldn’t want to push my credulity.

    June 19, 2012 at 8:29 pm

  14. Hello, Gary…thank you for being here, truly…and late is never a problem…especially with the wonderful contribution to the post that you provided tonight. I do agree that many of us would be much better-off if we’d take that step back and really look at things from the broader perspective. I enjoy sharing that view with you.

    And about the skeletal remains, I have to admit that I didn’t take as much time out there in the woods to study them as I wish I had. I have spent several minutes at a time here on the post looking and looking at some of the shots and wondering if that wasn’t the base of an antler. I have seen mule deer skeletons and antlers in my time in Colorado, and these were definitely a bit different. Thank you for your expert ID of all of the bones…I was only certain of the coccyx and scapula, and moderately certain of the tibia…but it is beyond even my imagination how one might have known about the ticks and limp in his left hind leg…you are truly a wonder. 😉

    Thank you again.

    June 19, 2012 at 9:32 pm

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