Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ice Planet

My life this morning was strangely entwined with the history of our planet. Usually I never watch TV during the day, but I happened to notice that there was a show on History Channel called “How the Earth Was Made.” I turned it on, and it was great, and I even managed to interest my geologist husband, ensconced in his Saturday morning radio programs. I never knew that the entire planet was once covered with a mile-thick layer of ice, even the oceans, causing one of the previous five great extinctions among the relatively new ocean organisms. It was caused by the ocean currents being disrupted by continental drift, the continents coming together, blocking the warmer sea currents. This was about 2 billion years ago. Fortunately, ours was not destined to be an ice planet, though. Volcanic activity broke through the ice, the continents broke apart, and those two processes thawed the earth.
Later, watching about the age of the dinosaurs, I glanced out the window at the wild birds (their descendants), and realized I needed to refill the bird feeders. During the next ads, I bundled up and carted my bucket of seeds out. The yard is an ice sheet. Two nights ago we had about an inch and a half of freezing rain and sleet, which encased a foot or so of icy snow left from the early January storms. The sun is out, blinding, melting the ice off the trees. The yard is sloped and pock-marked with our trails and deer prints. I fell twice, my feet just slipping out from under me, once with a full pail of sunflower seeds! Luckily, I wasn’t hurt, just had the wind knocked out of me on one fall.
So my little dinosaurs got their seeds for now, but conditions will have to change dramatically before I venture out onto this ice planet again!