poetry and prose about place

a snippet of landscape – glacial erratics and boulder fields

with 8 comments

Last week we went for a drive to explore some of the back roads in Sunbury County.  As we drove, we encountered large boulders everywhere along the road.  I know from my reading and a course years ago, these are a remnant of the glaciers that once covered this area.  Large boulders were carried along by the ice and deposited on the landscape far from their place of origin.

In one place, a clear-cut lay the landscape bare and we were able to see how frequently these glacial erratics occurred in the area.    In the photo, you can see the boulders scattered in a ‘boulder field’.   These boulders would have been deposited here by a glacier, thousands of years ago, perhaps during the Wisconsinan glaciation when almost all of Canada was covered by ice.

It is strange to drive along the road today and know that thousands of years ago, a sheet of ice, perhaps a few kilometers thick, would have covered us.



gravel pit


ten thousand years it took

a glacial stream to set

the sinew of the esker –

cobbles sorted to layers,

screened by a giant hand


ten scant years to sever

esker snake from his tail –

the excavator bucket

reaching, fingers lifting sand,

pit-run, ready for road



Copyright   Jane Tims   2012

Written by jane tims

August 27, 2012 at 7:14 am

8 Responses

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  1. I went out looking for crows today but didn’t find them….but I did find some unusual plants growing in the crevices of huge boulders here. Most of them I could identify but I could not identify one plant that I’ve never seen before … it wasn’t in my Peterson’s guide…. so I’ll have to do some internet searches for that one. But there were all kinds of mosses … gorgeos mosses that had grown from our very wet summer that had dried now and made these wonderful blankets and patterns. I’m just thrilled with the photos I came home with. Huge glacial boulders have so much character and are full of surprises!



    August 29, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    • Hi. I also like mosses and the patterns they make. They create miniature landscapes that remind me of the terrariums I used to make long ago. I wish you luck with the identification of the plant. Jane


      jane tims

      August 30, 2012 at 8:16 am

  2. It’s amazing how glaciers could carry these large rocks for many miles. There’s a field of bounders where the glaciers melted in Pennsylvania that people call the devil’s garden.



    August 27, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    • Hi Sheryl. Thanks for the information… I’ll look it up on Google! Jane


      jane tims

      August 28, 2012 at 8:16 am

  3. Hi Jane,

    I’ve been having trouble with my nb.sympatico address so just switched to following you on my address. Hope it’ll work better. I’ve missed some of your recent posts and am just catching up again now. I always enjoy them. I am fascinated with the size of boulders left behind by the melting ice. I’ve seen them so large that parts of a house had to be built around them to accomodate the unmovability of them. Glad to be in touch again.


    Carol Steel

    August 27, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    • Hi Carol. I see boulders everywhere, and people design them into their landscaping. I wish I had a couple of boulders here, but all we have is sand (also a gift of the glaciers!). Jane


      jane tims

      August 28, 2012 at 8:15 am

  4. The study of the earth’s changes is such an amazing story indeed. Everything changes so slowly we never realize that dramatic events are underway even as we speak and are shocked to find that that these things really are on-going. I’ve been fascinated by the geology of this world since I was a kid. Love your post today, Jane.

    We have a wonderful “fox den” here where the boulders as large as sheds were dumped on top of each other creating a small cave. It played a bit in the history of one of the towns in our area. Fascinating stuff.



    August 27, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    • Hi. I know where there is just such a ‘den’. I hiked there once with a friend. The rocks were tipped toward one another and created a cave, open at each end. I often wondered if ancient people found that cave and perhaps used it as a stop-over place or a dwelling! Jane


      jane tims

      August 27, 2012 at 8:38 pm

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