Description: I like these fields at night because they’re quiet and dark. I’ve walked past here before and never really knew what it was for. Officially it is the Friendship Recreation Center, nicknamed Turtle Park for the statues by the playground. You’d think it’d be popular since it’s in a residential area, but it’s been quiet anytime I come in the day, too, only one boy playing basketball the last time I was here.
I like to come and feel the ground under my feet. Where it’s worn from the diamond, the dirt is softer, muddy if the snow’s been melting. D.C. has a soil erosion problem, and the website says they look for land disturbances and soil erosion complaints. Like the dirt is too soft and can’t be trusted, but it feels solid here.
I think of it like one giant plate beneath my feet, tectonic plates moving together so slowly. If they played baseball here they could outrun the earth.
Under my feet the plates, under the plates the lithosphere. The lithosphere is the crust and upper mantle of the earth, where it is solid, 100 kilometers under the surface. I think about the crust of the earth, so thick to a person but like an eggshell to the planet. I think about what it would feel like to be buried, layers and layers of dirt over your chest and still caught in just that eggshell.
Under the eggshell is the asthenosphere, deeper in the mantle of the earth, where it is warm and viscous like molasses but probably scary. 2900 kilometers of molasses, made of mostly iron and nickel. In middle school the doctor said I don’t have enough iron in my blood. I think about how what is inside the earth way under my feet and what is inside my blood is a little the same. It’s a nice thought, in a way. Iron molasses moving slowly in earth blood.
Under that is the core of the earth, and in my research I found that we don’t know anything for sure. No one has ever had direct experience with the core– we guess things based on seismology and the earth shaking, that the outer core is liquid and the inner core mostly solid. I’m no scientist, and I know in my head that the theories are as accurate as they can be for humans so far away on the eggshell crust of the earth. But I think about all that I don’t know and it’s a relief, in a way. It feels like rising. I trust in the core I can’t see because sometimes I think I can feel it– the slow bubble of magma up my chest, a little burst of everything– the iron I can’t have and the things I can’t know.
I trust in what I can touch, and I can feel the ground still under my feet. We’ve been walking here for about ten minutes. The earth is so slow and solid ten minutes is barely a breath, a whole human lifespan just a sigh in between geological ages. Six million breaths in the average human lifetime, and still the earth could swallow us whole– but for now, a breath is enough. Thank you for joining me.
The Eart, A Very Short Introduction, by Martin Redfern
The Consise Geologic Time Scale, by James G. Ogg, Gabi Ogg, and Felix M. Grandstein
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