An enormous burden

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A braided river carries such an enormous burden of sand and gravel that it does not meander through its valley like most streams, making cutbanks to one side and point bars opposite. Instead, it runs in braided channels through its own broad bed. Looking at those Silurian conglomerates, I could all but hear the big braided rivers I had seen coming down from the Alaska Range, with gravels a co-working space amsterdam mile wide, caribou and bears on the gravel, and channels flowing in silver plaits. If those rivers testify, as they do, to the erosional disassembling of raw young mountains, then so did the rock before us, with its clean river gravels preserved in river sand. “Geology repeats itself,” Anita said, and we moved along, touching, picking at the rock. She pointed out the horse-belly curves of channel-fill deposits, and the fact that none was deeper than five feet-a result of the braiding and the shifting of the channels. Evidently, the calm earth and quiet seas that were described by the older rock we had collected up the road had been utterly revolutionized in the event that built the ancient mountains, which, bald as the djebels of Arabia, had stood to the east and shed the sand and gravel this way. In the ripple marks, the crossbedding, the manner in which the sands had come to rest, ¬†Anita could see the westerly direction of the braided-river currents more than four hundred million years ago. Three hundred years ago, William Penn arrived in this country and decided almost at once that the Lenape were Jews. “Their eye is little and black, not unlike a straight-look’t Jew,” he wrote home. “I am ready to believe them of the Jewish race ….A man would think himself in Dukes-place or Berry-street in London, when he seeth them.” They were “generally tall, straight, well-built” people “of singular proportion.” They greased themselves with clarified bear fat. Penn studied their language-the better to know them, the better to work out his treaties. “Their language is lofty, yet narrow, but like the ¬†co-working space rotterdam Hebrew ….O ne word serveth in the place of three ….I must say that I know not a language spoken in Europe tlrnt hath words of more sweetness or greatness, in accent or emphasis, than theirs.” Penn heard “grandeur” in their tribal proper names. He listed them: Tammany, Poquessin, Rancocas, Shakamaxon. He could have added Wyomissing, Wissinoming, Wyoming. He made treaties with the Lenape under the elms of Shakamaxon. Tammany was present. He was to become the most renowned chief in the history of the tribe.

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