Long Rock: An Exploration of Things Left Behind

By Sara Huffman

I often wonder about what we humans leave behind. I fill my head with swirling North Pacific trash Gyres, oil spills, and agricultural fields without topsoil. Not a pretty thought. I muse about what our waste, our buildings, our ideas, our impact would say about our civilization if humans were to vanish altogether. Would we feel proud?

In my AmeriCorps term with Green River Preserve so far, I have spent a fair bit of time sitting with an 85 foot long, 75 foot wide granite slab called Long Rock. It lies on the Northern border of GRP, and is shared with the Southern border of DuPont State Forest. It spans almost exactly East to West, and is dark grey speckled with greens and browns of lichen, mosses and grasses. In some spots veins of quartz crystal reveal themselves if you squint your eyes and crinkle the bridge of your nose. Water m arks roll down the volcanic crests of stone with a slight rust color. Besides the overwhelming beauty, the reason why I come to survey this rock every month is because of its ancient rock art carvings. Splattered across the rock are dozens of 4-6 inch wide circles that researchers estimate have been resting there since before Egyptian pyramids. Some are connected, some are grouped together, but all of them are clearly formed by the human hand and not by the movement of water. Rock Art Specialist J. H. N. Loubser in his 2011 assessment of Long Rock and two other petroglyphic sites in DuPont posited that these circles might be depictions of the afterlife for native peoples. The circles might have represented settlements on a large map of the spirit world.

In the modern era, Long Rock reminds me of the multiple cultural significances spaces can hold. For many years, Long Rock has been a place for local social gatherings, often resulting in litter and vandalism. During my monthly survey and clean-up on Long Rock, I have pulled off several garbage bags filled with bottles and even a car tire! It proves to be an interesting contrast: ancient rock carvings paired with graffiti and glass bottles.

At Green River Preserve, we know that being conscious of our environmental impact is the key to being stewards of the earth. I want you to think about your impact. What do the things that will outlive you on the earth (your trash, the trees you plant, your carvings) say about you? Is this an image you feel proud of, or do you want to change it?


GRP AmeriCorps Volunteer