The Longitudinal Groove – Essay

There is an uncomfortable sense in writing this place by description.  The haggard floodscape is quintessential of an uneasy subject.  One can identify the location, and perhaps it leads to an in depth comprehension.

The longitudinal groove is a feature in the tabled lands of the Dry Falls area.  The elevation is about 1,500 feet above sea level but the water that gnashed and carved this groove peaked at an immense 1,800 feet.  Being there one would not know it.  The land is rough terrain superimposed on an ultimately flat expanse of ground.  At the crest of a rise you can see for miles.  There are discernible way points: the Dry Falls Interpretative Center, big agriculture silos, and toothpick structures with fiddly bits of wire strung between them, stringing out in a thin line against the horizon on the edge of a far-off gorge.  In this sense, one can know a place for its location, triangulating it mentally with no fear of descriptive failure.

However there is a deceptive abundance of emptiness in the land.  Maybe it is the way the still, echoing physical features allow the interstate doppler to invade – even at a two-mile distance.  Perhaps the answer lies in the way the flat land and engulfing sky reign sovereign over psychological tendency toward diversity.

It is a land and sky that isolates and targets an individual.  There is little to glean from such an area.  It reflects emotions and thoughts back toward the viewer.  It expels place.

When I was at the longitudinal groove I did not see the basalt ledges, the mineral blocks, or the anthill as special or meaningful.  There is a distinctive disparity in the ability to inspire original thoughts about place or identity other than what is already in the observer’s mind, what is already embedded in the observer’s world.  The longitudinal grooves at Dry Falls were utterly desolate – not only by the stale and arid regional climate, but also in the place itself.

Being there I thought this gave it a label of meaningless.  Now I realize, in a world of distinctive places, the strength in existing without a high degree of individuality and special meaning is a feat in its own way.  This realization gives the area place.  Dry Falls is a place so far removed from meaning that it allows you to simply be.


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