I’ve been somewhat out of things for the last couple of weeks. I took some well-deserved vacation days and generally chilled out (even the presence of 350+ unread emails in my inbox when I got to work this morning didn’t spoil my mood) and even got away for a few days over New Year.
We met up with my parents and stayed in a cottage in Somerset, about a mile from the coast (and about 90 minutes drive from my favourite North Devon beach). We walked a bit, drank a bit, ate a lot. Had a really nice time, in fact.
We discovered a bamboo field. I guess it has to grow somewhere, but I envisaged somewhere more tropical—to be fair, after the past few weeks the climate did feel positively balmy.
We walked on the beach, a new experience for five month-old Rosie, but one she seemed to enjoy.
I marvelled at the revealed strata in the cliffs. I hypothesized that the rock underfoot was an ancient lava flow, and that countless long-dead sea creatures made up the layered slate above it, and that there must have been further volcanic flows followed by periods of relative calm (and dying sea creatures) in the 50+ million years of the Jurassic. I wondered what Henry would have made of it.
And, incredibly, just as I got down to the beach, I found a fossil.
‘Incredibly’, because I don’t find stuff like that. Not usually. The odd tuppence on the pavement maybe, but never something as awesomely cool as a creature that lived in the Jurassic. I picked it up, saying, “I’m having this.” I traced the outline of the fossil with my finger, realizing that it was rather the negative of a fossil; just an imprint in the rock.
Disappointed? Hardly. But as I looked around, I saw another fossil-bearing rock, lying not eighteen inches from the first. Picked it up. Traced the rock that once swam here. Turned it over and realized it fit the negative perfectly.
I thought about how the rock, as it fell from the cliff, had split in just the right place to reveal the fossil and its impression. Pondered that I was (probably) the first living being in 150 million years to see this creature.
Was—most likely—insufferably gobsmacked for the rest of the day.