A Brief Visit from Tthe Fundament

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Michael J. Furniss

Hi, I am soil, topsoil, the Fundament. I don’t usually speak, but imagine with me for a few minutes, and I will tell you of my wonder. It’s time I have my say. I am guessing you never thought about me in all these ways.

Imagine with me for a few minutes. A twist in space-time happens, (zwip!). A little column over a mature vegetable garden rises. Outside turns in and inside turns out. Luckily, we are there when it happens. The topsoil rises into that column, and, remarkably, begins talking to us. TOPSOIL: Ahh, that feels nice. Hello humans. I have come up, up from the earth element into the air element, and can speak to you briefly. This will only last a few moments, so please listen well. I am The Fundament. , I am fundamental. I am Topsoil, and I want you to know me, to understand what I am and what I mean to you. Think about me as a tall column with many different layers. All differentMany colors and textures and materials, warm browns and yellow and reds. . I know that humans differ and you have many ways of seeing things and what is valuable, so I will try to speak to each of these. I am topsoil and I am old growth. I am very old. It takes 10 or 20 thousand years or more just to form one foot of me. And my complexity and productivity grows over time, but very slowly. Image this: You are inIf you were in a time machine . And you are lookingand looked at a soil in cross-section like, well, like me right now, . And if you speed the flow of time up so that you can actually see the soil growing, depth increasing, humus accumulating, structure getting more open and complex, and all, well, you would have to go at such a speed that the time machine way up to see these changes and at this speed of time, the trees growing would just be 'pulsing' in and out of the soil. Flickering in and out. I am the real old growth. I am topsoil and I am stardust. Every 50,000 years or so, an inch of stuff falls to earth from the burn-up of meteors from space. Since I am about half a million years old, that would make about 10 inches of stardust in me. The fundament comes from the firmament. That's me. You are walking on startstuff my friend.

I am topsoil and I am capital. That’s right, I am ultimate form of capital, the true wealth of the land; the basic investment and infrastructure from which all commodities and amenities flow on terrestrial Earth. Trees and grasslands and crops, fish and wildlife habitats, the water I purify and meter out are the profits.

Do you know where the greatest biodiversity can be found? Right here in my upper layers. In every gram of me I have 5 billion live bacteria alone in every gram of me. But with a soil mantle over the whole watershed. tiny connected pipes. Tell that to your kids. I am topsoil and I am the placenta of life on Earth. I have organs. I am chock full of pipes. I am the headwaters. but build it. So you are standing on the headwaters of your watershed. and so it is the headwaters. but I am not used up. and the plants have water when the sun shines. I am poop. arthropods. arthropods. all sorts of living parts. All those little pipes are the reason I am so important. Put a piece of food on me and see how long it lasts. I have a digestive system. bug poop. Good capitalists never spend their capital. most if it many many times. I eat constantly. Most of any watershed's plumbing is inside of me. Think about its journey to the stream. everywhere. fungi. I'm hard to study. Why. I am topsoil and I am the plumbing system of the landscape. actinomycetes. and I am teeming with intense and super complex ecological interactions. I am in the middle. And I have blood. It's true. I respire breathe as the many living things that I am respire. I am alive.. Yep. with none left after the storms for creeks or rivers or for plants. water coming from the atmosphere enters an immense system of tiny pipes inside the soils of the watershed. I am topsoil and I am habitat. the mineral part of me. I am topsoil and I am tissue. I have bones. the gazillions of creatures that live all through me.O. between us and the forests and . so not much is known about this part of biology. You might only see the streams that are out in the daylight. just more diverse. actinomycetes. but the vast majority of the streams in the watershed are running inside of me. Wilson said that a handful of soil is like the Amazon rain forest. Elaborate or cut I have an enormous organic complex called humus that's like membranes that filter and sort and harbor and exchange and nourish the whole system. so that the creeks run between rains.They come from me. I am the plumbing system of the watershed. trickling and oozing through me. It first travels through me. I delicately meter out the water that falls on me. and they each have a function. through billions upon billions of little pathways. innumerable bacteria. and they each have a function. no matter where you are. And innumerable fungi. Think about what happens to a raindrop when it falls on the forest. E. small bugs that live in me. a vast matrix of little streams. all of me has passed through the guts of soil arthropods. all sorts of living parts. nothing but bug poop. at least once. I am topsoil and I am bug poop. I have tremendous species diversity. My surface is the start of the watershed plumbing system. but we do know that I am the most diverse habitat and ecosystem there is. So. like an organism turned inside out. You see without my intricate plumbing system. all the water would run right off during storms. the soil water that flows through my capillaries and veins.

between us and the mother earth. This is what keeps all my roots and rootlets wet all over the watershed. no matter where you are. Think of it like this: Organic matter is the fuel. but is open for water and air to hang out and move through. and dusty dry droughts when it doesn't. About half Tthe water that comes into me from rain and snow drains away through me by gravity. some very slowly. no crawdads in the creeks. and the momentum storage smoothes out the bumps of disturbances like wildfire and the crazy things humans do to forests and grasslands. a matrix of little streams. Some quickly. I am the headwaters. no water in the falls. There's lots of empty space in me.000 acre watershed here and I can holds over a trillion gallons of water I delicately meter out the water that falls on me. water is hanging in me. I am like the flywheel of the whole ecosystem. and the plants have water when the sun shines. This slow drainage is what gets the streams through the long dry periods.the farms. and dusty dry droughts when it doesn't. When a raindrop falls on me in the forest. Formatted: Indent: First line: 0. I am topsoil and I am the plumbing system of the landscape. the engine of the watershed. trickling and oozing through me. . food web is the firing order. I am chock full of pipes. decomposers are the cylinders. through billions upon billions of minute pathways. site factors are the carburetion. I hang on to it. some slowly. with none left after the storms for creeks or rivers or for plants. for all the plants that grow in me. soil about half the half of my volume is not solid. so that the creeks run between rains. The plants that grow on me need water all the time. Most of any watershed's plumbing is inside of me. everywhere. In a am part of a 3. it first travels through me. The vast majority of the streams in the watershed are running out of sight. I am topsoil and I am a vast reservoir. So you are standing on the headwaters of your watershed. Without me there'd be nothing but floods while it rains. and you'd need monstrous reservoirs indeed to hold back the torrents.. I am the Headwaters: With a soil mantle over the whole watershed. In aWhen I am good healthy. About hHalf that the water that fills my pores by rain and snowmelt does not go downstream at all. inside of me. and that need water all the time. I am all productive.16" . there'd be no fish in the streams. lots and lots of it. I hold onto huge amounts of water this way. connected pipes. I am topsoil and I am the engine of the land. Without me there'd be nothing but floods while it rains. I hold it the water against gravity. You could think of me as the womb of terrestrial life on earth. the engine of the ecosystem. Without this function. I run the productivity of the whole thing. all the water would run right off during storms. Without my plumbing system.

Crete. . and I am absolutely accurate. FDR said that the 'history of every nation is eventually written in how it cares for its soils. I am in the middle. Israel. I am all productive. something like 12. these surfaces. and air react. Italy. Greece. Quite a bit. just more diverse. an inch of stuff falls to earth from the burnup of meteors from space. so not much is known about this part of biology. I am topsoil and I am habitat. and so there just huge amountwhich have greats of surface areas:in a typical soil. That’s right. I'm a churning urn of burning funk. the basic investment and infrastructure from which all commodities and amenities flow on terrestrial Earth. I am topsoil and I am a chemical factory. I am topsoil and I am capital. Yes the soil itself is a record. I am topsoil and I am history. I form am a long-term record of land use and stewardship of each generation. fish and wildlife habitats. the surface area goes up exponentially. Most of my surfaces are electrically charged. Since I am about half a million years old. but build it. and all that. Good capitalists never spend their capital. It's true. The fundament comes from the firmament. As a given volume of stuff gets to smaller and smaller particle sizes. Portugal and eastern Spain just to name a few. You could think of me as the womb of terrestrial life on earth. I am topsoil and I am the placenta of life on Earth. I have tremendous species diversity. but we do know that I am the most diverse habitat and ecosystem there is.000 square centimeters per gram. E. That's me. Sicily. I'm hard to study. Cyprus. These surfaces are Active places And those are reaction surfaces. Wilson said that a handful of soil is like the Amazon rain forest. They come from me. I am the landscape's long-term memory. like clays and humus molecules. where things stick and adhere. the true wealth of the land. between us and the forests and the farms. At the turn of the Century Chesworth called me the placenta of life on earth. that would make about 10 inches of stardust in me. and exchange. but I am not used up.000 years or so. That's like 6 acres to the ounce. That's because I am made of a lot of very small particles. Do you know where the greatest biodiversity can be found? Right here in my upper layers. Tunisia. I am ultimate form of capital. the water I purify and meter out are the profits. between us and the mother earth. where water and solids. You are walking on startstuff my friend. Trees and grasslands and crops.O. and cohere. Active places. FDR said that the 'history of every nation is eventually written in how it cares for its soils. I bear the imprint of your wisdom or of our waste. places where things live. and adsorb.I am topsoil and I am stardust.' I have recorded Mmany civilizations that were ruined because the people did not notice what I was and how fragile I can be: Lebanon. The cosmos is below you as well as above you.' I am an archive that records the stewardship of each generation. and I am teeming with intense and super complex ecological interactions. Every 50.

I have to go back in now. IThe dark productive earth is like our own vast interiority. but where all of our life and creativity comes from. immense. wherein I dwell. Humans to humus. I am you. holding all. air. Seeing the land as the embodiment of the Great Spirit is prominent in many native cultures. Our inner life is like a soil. The connection between human spiritual longing and the soil is strong and abiding. the Greeks. Our inner life is like a soil. verse 34) . the father of Judaism. Abraham. but where all of our life and creativity comes from. The list goes on and on. I am topsoil. manifesting a penumbral light ??? UNCLEAR at the surface that reveals only a little the depth within. plants and animals. In Buddhism all life forms are sacred. the fundament of life of on Earth. and water. and with it the prosperity I once brought. lest we lose our roots. I am the landscape. immense. The connection between human spiritual longing and the soil is strong and abiding. It is easy to forget and neglect.Farming and grazing and logging were practiced here on sloping terrain for centuries. again and again. Dark and all productive. The original fertile mantle of topsoil is simply gone. was instructed to "Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit. Our land ethics and deep appreciation for soil must be renewed. I am even more than that which you need. and much like your soul. Stewardship of soil is part of many of your wonderful human spiritual traditions. Confucius taught that the earth's thin mantle sustained all plant and animal life and minerals treasured by people . the Australian aborigines and many others. and wealth. I am the second chapter of the “Manuscript of Nature” that Hazrat Inayat Khan spoke of." (That's Numbers. the Carthaginians. in his covenant with God. Christianity and Islam. . Aristotle viewed soil as the central mixing pot for the other element of the world. and the Romans. IThe dark productive earth is like our own vast interiority. I am many things. human to humus. We become soil when the time for our incarnation is done. Losing their soils ended the empires of the Phoenicians. Chapter 35. fire and water. it is hard to see. human to humus. your vast inner landscape. manifesting a penumbral light at the surface that reveals only a little the depth within. It is easy to forget and neglect. such as the American Indians. in the formation of all things. and form the tissues of your history and sustainance. The connection between human spiritual longing and the soil is strong and abiding. We become soil when the time for our incarnation is done. Dark and all productive. I give you birth. inside and out. it is hard to see. just to name a few.

[picture: collage of soil] Acknowledgements: Kerima Furniss for her adept editing. engine. of the organism that is the landscape and the Earth. Andy Moldenke for the bug poop insight. the plumbing system. and reservoir of all watersheds. You are keepers of the stardust and the bug poop. and Sheik Aslan Sattler for helping to stoke the engine room inspiration. You are stewards of the most diverse habitats on Earth. and the placenta of life on Earth.Remember. . and builders of an enduring historical record that will faithfully record your wisdom or your folly. as humans you are the stewards of old growth.

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