• Kay Spencer

A Constant State of Motion

Updated: Jan 5, 2019

Part of the joy of writing is in the research, in what I get to learn along the way. Earlier this year I was reading about regional forests, wondering how far north the giant cypress of the south grew 55,000 years ago. I wanted to give the characters in my book some perspective on what it meant to be alive, that skin-prickling moment when they understood they were part of everything.


The study of mesophytic forests lead to something else I didn't know much about: Pangaea - the most recent super-continent that existed, when all the earth you could walk on was a single land mass.


Most interesting to me was how the earth beneath our feet is in a constant state of motion. North and South America are separate continents newly joined by the collision of their shelves. The evidence of their movement is the relatively new stretch of land called Central America, the peaks of the mountains that are the Caribbean islands.


Unintentionally, my interest in old forests gave me a different perspective on the passage of time: how it is the very nature or order of the world to separate and collide. It never stops because it is never finished. The plates fit for a while - a day, a year, a century, an epoch - but no matter how far apart they drift, they are constantly moving in the direction of together.


All of this made it into Searching for George's Garden:

- The longest chess game was 269 moves and took 20 hours and 15 minutes. It was a draw. - Pyramus and Thisbe. - The earth rotates once in about 24 hours with respect to the sun, but once every 23 hours 56 minutes and 4 seconds with respect to the stars. 3 minutes and 56 seconds lost, or gained. - The first red dye, discovered by the Aztecs, was made by crushing female cochineal beetles. - The Western Interior Seaway existed in the Cretaceous period, splitting North America in two. Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Lower Alabama/Georgia, and Florida were underwater. - The earths axial tilt has varied between 22 degrees and 24 degrees in the last 41,000 years - a change that is caused by gravitational pull of other planets. - The first stable blue pigment was made from lapis lazuli, a semi-precious stone mined in Afghanistan. It was found on the funeral mask of King Tut in 1323 BC. It is so rare today that it sells for $360 for five grams. - The first blue M&Ms were produced in 1995.


Encaustic artwork by Suzanne Merritt at suzannemerritt.com


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