The Big Badlands Last Year

August in the badlands is hot. The dead prairie grasses are yellow, but where there is water, green trees. The land is old, and it is barren. It is so dry that the mineral colors of the eras show clearly. Pinks, browns, yellows, and blue gray stripe the distant eroded buttes and canyons. Any organic material, any loam for example has long ago dried to dust.

The scene is millennia before our very eyes because this was the bed of a vast inland sea and we see the layers of earth in cross section there. The layers accumulated over hundreds of millions of years, an incessant rain of dust and death descending to the sea bottom for all that time.

Now the sea lies bone-dry under empty skies in summer and winter.

 Big Badlands, South Dakota, 2017

Big Badlands, South Dakota, 2017