Home / Essays / 2015 / May / Split Asunder – the slow steady might of nature

Split Asunder – the slow steady might of nature

Behold, a concrete example of nature’s power, beauty and patience.

This cast cement fence post is slowly splitting in two. A flaw in the concrete probably allowed a tiny crack to form in the surface of the post. Water wicked into the crack and sometimes froze, expanding the hairline fissure so that next time, more water could get into it. Sometimes a morning frost would freeze it, expanding the flaw in the concrete.

The process could take a decade or two to get to the stage shown in the shot. The defeat of one of man’s more mundane creations by little bits of water is therefore both slow and oddly beautiful.

The water, ever present, patiently waiting for a frost to help it do its business. Attacking by relentless degree instead of brute force.

If we lived life a thousand times faster, how would nature’s attack on this concrete fence post look then.

At a speedier pace, the post splitting would seem to be a mysterious process. The days with a frost would blur by so quickly that the cause of the cracking might be rendered invisible to our accelerated eye.

The moss and lichen would invade and grow like a living thing colonising this simple post. As the only obvious change, we might posit that it was somehow causing the post to split asunder, though the mechanism might be uncertain.

As a farmer, I’d have once looked at this fence post and just cursed, counting the cost in time and money.

As a photographer and writer I can afford to look at the bright side and draw portentous instruction from some other poor fellow’s problem.

There are some things I like about not being a farmer any more.