The rocks have stood there virtually unchanged for 20,000 years, giving visitors a present-day glimpse of a long-ago past.
It’s known as Boulder Field, and its nearly 17 acres of sandstone and rock is an awe-inspiring site to anyone visiting Hickory Run State Park in the Pennsylvania Poconos.
Tis a humbling experience to stand before the rocks and gaze out at eternity. The eye cannot help but be impressed by the grandeur of the landscape. Rocks dot the horizon, some of the boulders stretching as long as 26 feet. In the distance, park-goers gingerly dance across the field, dwarfed to ant-like size in an odd Martian-perspective sort of way.
Such are the time-stand-still remnants of the last ice age. Shifting and melting glaciers acted as a slow-moving bull-dozer some 20,000 years ago, heaving rock and unearthing the surface in earth’s ever-patient style. Not much has changed since.
Or so I thought.
Joining the pint-sized people on Boulder Field, my wife and I and our children began the rocky dance across the surface. The landscape was spectacular, but one quickly realizes that to successfully traverse Boulder Field without suffering a broken ankle, one’s eyes need to be fixed low – at one’s feet, and at the next rock.
Looking down, I am loathe to discover some not so long-ago evidence of recent geological shifting.
Apparently today’s visitors to Boulder Field weren’t its first. Seems “Tim” happened upon the rocky landscape, during a heroic Lewis and Clark exploration of the great outdoors, I’m sure, way back in 2005 – with spray paint in tow.
Sadly, Tim was not alone. Walking across Boulder Field, one quickly discovers that Boulder Field has been visited by more than its share of rock-artists. Jason was there too. Along with lovebirds John and Mary. Not to mention T.J. and other semi-anonymous initialed trailblazers. Even the entire Jones family was there!
Standing on the rocks, I could feel bitterness begin to well up within me. How can millions of years of erosion become graffiti-ridden in just a few short decades? A sense of discouragement at humankind flooded through my veins. At what point does the ego yield to the greater power of nature? For 20,000 years, earth has slowly crept along since the last ice age, and the beauty and permanence of Boulder Field humbly stands before us as a testament to time, patience, and the beauty of creation.
Disheartened, I begin the trek to the car. Once off the rocks, I turn and look back once more at Boulder Field.
Suddenly, my heart is captured again by its grandeur, its spirit of resiliency, its knowing sense of hope. From afar, not a single spec of paint is visible. Suddenly the imperfections of humanity fade away when looked at from a distance.
In the community of rocks, only beauty can be found.
The rocky community will continue to sit, as it has since time immemorial, in patient beauty. Erosion allows the rocks to forgive its trespassers. It has taught the rocks patience. It has taught the rocks forgiveness.
Time marches on, and the slate is made anew.