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Banbury Cross

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Post details: Differentiation of Disintegration

Differentiation of Disintegration

There is disintegration and then there is disintegration. Auntie Nature(*) has myriad ways of breaking things. Today I witnessed two of the more extreme cases from the opposite sides of the spectrum: one spectacularly fast and furious and the other painstakingly slow but persistent.

(*) since a cousin of mine refers to Nature as "Mother", I feel I am legally entitled to use this epithet.

Not far from my grandparents' cottage there is a series of bizarrely sculpted rock formations known as "Adrspach Rock Town". If you are ever in Prague and want to take a breather from the overwhelming architectural drubbing, go visit the Giant Mountains. From the base town of Trutnov, the rocks can be reached via a short train ride that skirts the border with Poland and leads directly into their heart. Eons of subversive gnawing of elements eroded a massive chunk of sandstone into a Gothic labyrinth of tall rocky columns and one of the most spectacular natural landmarks of the Czech Republic.

I haven't been there for at least 20 years, so I persuaded my sis to go there for a little weekend jaunt. We took the road though, and before we got there, we witnessed a much brisker way in which the Nature can induce disintegration. In a shallow valley near our destination, a station wagon carrying assortment of furniture on its roof was approaching us in the opposite direction. One of the bookshelves was apparently tied rather recklessly and as the car swerved through a sharp bend, a hefty bookcase succumbed to the lure of the centripetal force and flew away, exploding into splintered shards not more than 50 yards ahead of us. If we were there a few seconds earlier, that same wooden missile would have taught us why the Czech roads are considered some of the most dangerous in Europe. Fortunately, the same force that launched the renegade piece of furniture from its cradle on the roof also instantaneously swept its carcass away from the road, so after we drove over the spot and I looked back through the rear window, the road was perfectly clear and the shattered wooden planks must have been resting quietly in the tall grass of the ditch.

As we walked among the sandstone spires few hours later and admired their grotesque shapes springing from the white sand, we were gently reminded that it is the slow and patient change that often creates the most marvelous and persistent wonders, in this case literally one grain of sand at a time. On the other hand, the quick and theatrical gestures that may dazzle you with their sleight-of-hand magic at first will frequently end up exactly where they belong. In the ditch. And that is true for the human affairs as well.



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