Earth is the 3rd closest planet to the sun after Mercury and Venus. It is the only planet not named after a Roman or Greek God. The name Earth is derived for an Anglo Saxon word Erde which has Germanic origins. It is the densest planet in our solar system and the largest of the 'terrestrial planets'. Earth was formed about 4 1/2 billion years ago and simple molecular life forms originated in the planet's seas about a billion years later, possibly around thermal vents deep in the oceans. These organisms proliferated and began forming a biosphere that significantly altered the planet's atmosphere, creating an ozone layer that blocks life inhibiting solar radiation. This enabled life forms to eventually move from the seas to land masses. Earth is in just the right place for life to happen. Its all a matter of circumstance that this little speck in the Universe developed in the way it did. And the results of this chemical manifestation have been magnificent. The planet is in constant flux in a symbiotic melange of systems that adapt to every modulation in the environment. The organisms that thrive here have taken advantage of every circumstance in what was an ever expanding variety of species until our current species came along. Its believed that a meteorite ended the era of the dinosaurs, who ruled the Earth for 180 million years. We've been here for about one million years, at first living as part of the ecosystem, until we attained the ability to alter the environment in order to subsist on a more controllable level.
In the last 540 million years, the time span where the fossil records show the existence of large populations of complex hard shelled organisms, the Earth has experienced between 5 and 20 mass extinctions. Today our impact as a species is causing another one. Our hominid ancestors developed in to a highly adaptable species, capable of living in diverse climates from the tropics to the Arctic. After the last ice age ended, Homo sapiens populations grew exponentially. We currently number about 7.2 billion people. That number is projected to increase by another billion in the next 10 years! The impact that this population explosion has had on this planet is far reaching. It is estimated that 30,000 species will become extinct in the next year, about one every 3 hours. A report in National Geographic magazine predicts that 1/4th of all species on the planet are threatened with extinction by 2050.
|One of four bronze ecosystem panels on the Prayer Wheel in Halls Hill Park|
|An incredible array of colorful seaweeds washed up on the shore of Rockaway Beach|
The Earth circuit is the one I chose to build as "the Community circuit," an idea suggested by my client to make the labyrinth more participatory. The idea was to have people bring stones and found objects that I would use to build the third circuit from the center. We made a nice sign explaining what I was looking for and people slowing started to leave stones. Since I've been back on the site this Spring a few more piles have appeared and the selection looks good. People have left collections of beach glass, geodes, an amethyst crystal, Ammonite fossils, a Tibetan lock, and oxidized metal spikes and nails from the days when ship building was a lucrative trade on the island.
|An assortment of stones and other objects donated for the Community circuit|
The night before I left Portland there was a full moon with a lunar eclipse that was dazzlingly visible from my back yard, with Mars shining red above it. It seems to be an auspicious time to resume work on the Labyrinth.
|Full Lunar Eclipse with Mars above and a bright star to the right|
|The beach at Fay Bainbridge Park|
|A purple tulip left at the Labyrinth|
|Fort Ward Beach|
|Soft bedrock formations at Fort Ward Beach|
My project manager Gregory picked up 8 bags of mortar for me as the delivery of a fresh pallet didn't happen that day. I mixed four bags and worked until dark, making time consuming little flowers with bits of green beach glass people had brought. I have to put them in on edge and they are quite small. They came out looking like Sea Anemones, which I like. I left a gap in the mosaic so that I can connect the Mars circuit to Earth circuit later. The spans between loops are getting shorter than the steel bands that I use for forms so I am having to work around that. I had new strips cut from a thinner gauge of steel because the bends are getting tighter and I need greater flexibility than the thicker steel strips I've been using will tolerate. The new strips are so thin that I have to use two of them sandwiched together to give them the rigidity to hold the shape of the curves.
|Green beach glass 'Sea AAnemones|
|An Ammonite Fossil, brown beach glass 'Sea Anemones, and alabaster dice in the west of the Community circuit|
|The collection of beautiful old metal spikes, nails, and beach glass that Ellen's husband collected|
|Double Rainbow over Puget Sound|
|Bends connecting the 4th to the 3rd circuit|
I worked from the point I stopped at yesterday, setting the Community circuit from the Western cardinal point to where a pair of bends will occur connecting to the 2nd circuit, the Venus circuit. In the area with orange stone I placed a copy of the Phaistos Disk, which I bought when I was on the island of Crete in Greece this winter. The original disk was found in the Minoan palace complex at Phaistos and is twice the size of the copy I bought. It is considered to be the oldest known example of typography. Carved seals were stamped into a wet clay tablet in a spiraling line but the text has never been deciphered. Countless copies in a variety of colors were produced for the souvenir market. I chose one that mimicked the original. Surrounding the disk I set bits of red grout from the palace site and pottery shards from the Minoan palace at Knossos. I added to the mix some alabaster dice making the numbers 7 and 11 along with small orange beach pebbles, creating a quirky flower.
|A copy of the Phaistos Disk|
From orange area I worked my way in to black stones and then white where the bends to the Venus circuit will be connected later.
There is plenty of rain the forecast, making Spring on Puget Sound lush and vibrantly green. One of the best parts of this project is when I visit area beaches to collect stones. I needed to go to town and buy more rebar so I stopped at a beach at low tide on Eagle Harbor where the town of Winslow is located. The selection here is limited but I can always use small stones, and I want to use material from as many of the island's beaches as possible.
|A beach on Eagle Harbor|
|The beach at Creosote Point|
|Bainbridge Reef by the Country Club|
|The colorful pebbles Deborah and I collected on the beach by the Country Club|
Another circuit done, in honor of the incredible planet on which we live. May we honor it and treat it with love so that it may continue to sustain us. That is my wish. Thank you to the people who brought stones and meaningful object used to create it, and thank you for reading my ramblings, Jeffrey