Today we live in a world of social networks and technology. Of car problems and avoiding 5 o'clock rush hour. Of sitting quietly in our homes or office buildings watching as new buildings climb higher.
It's kind of hard to imagine that a time machine to another world (you know, like in all of those movies?) could actually exist.
But one does.
Florissant Fossil Beds, only two minutes away from Florissant, CO and only forty-five minutes from the city of Colorado Springs, is a site I'm fascinated with. It is by no means some obscure little place completely off the grid. And yet, there, it takes no more than a sprinkle of imagination to travel 37 million years in the past.
We can go to a time where there were no people. A time when a forest of redwood trees towered high, right in what would be our backyard. Back when a volcano exploded, and when the lava flow from that volcano covered the lower fifteen feet of the tree preserving it forever with help from the process of permineralization.
During this process, mineral rich water seeps into the void spaces of an organism, leaving mineral deposits behind which slowly build up, while the living flesh of the organism rots away. If the entire plant or animal is turned to stone through permineralization, the resulting fossil is said to be petrified.
Florissant Fossil Beds is currently home to around ten petrified redwood stumps, but it is impossible to know how many there once were, as tourists enjoyed breaking off bits of the fossilized trees to take home for a souvenir.
Although some are only a few feet tall, these faint memories of a lost time can propel us back to when trees loomed as tall as a twenty-story skyscraper.