Once upon a dealion

We have passed it many times.  On the right on the way, and on the left on the way back. Because of a busy schedule or bad weather, we usually drive by. This time, however, the sky was clear and we were in no rush.

How unlikely that the stones should have settled in just this way. Then I thought, improbable events are just that, in the short-term. As time lengthens, what is improbable becomes probable and even certain. I remembered the made-up term, dealion, defined as the likelihood of a perfect deal in the game of bridge. The odds against this happening are 2,235,197,406,895,366,368,301,559,999 to 1. If you could deal a bridge hand every minute, you would expect to deal that perfect hand once in every 70,877,644,815,302,079,197 years, 74 days, 3 hours, and 59.98 seconds. That’s a very long time indeed, much longer than the entire history of the planet. But, does this unfathomable degree of improbability mean that the perfect deal will never happen? No. And, who knows, perhaps it has already. Improbable means neither miraculous, or impossible, or even unlikely. Turn your thinking around just a bit and consider the vast number of highly improbable events that occur each and every second of every day.

So, what does this fatuous ramble say about my cairn? It says that my initial reaction, that the arrangement was unlikely, was thoughtless. The Ice Age, here in North America, lasted three million years. During that period, glaciers advanced and retreated across the landmass several times. Think of the many millions upon millions of tons of stone that were locked into the advancing ice and then released as the glacier retreated. Some stones settled to the ground while some settled onto others. Given the extended time horizon, I am sure that the striking arrangement you see here occurred over and over again. So, try not to think about events you believe to be rare or unusual in only that way. Try to understand how it is that seemingly miraculous events can, and do, occur all the time.

To end this post, look at the photo again and consider the right side of the upper boulder. Do you see it? I didn’t, as I lay on the ground just outside Bennington. It wasn’t until we were home, and until she looked over my shoulder, that the Ursine visage came into view. I was glad to have photographed the cairn from several angles so I can report that the striking, and fortuitous, profile was caused only by the interplay between surface detail and light, shining from just the right angle. If you look at images taken from the right (and, looking directly into its eyes) there is nothing, even remotely, resembling anything but rock.

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