Birds and scrolls printer's ornament.  Graphics Fairy

At Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, our task was to take this hokku by Magical Mystical Teacher and add to lines (in approximately 7/7) to create a tan renga.

in a desert land
stones from rivers far away
muttering dark tales                                      (MMT)

Here is our host’s offering:

in a desert land
stones from rivers far away
muttering dark tales                                      (MMT)

pebbles shimmer between leaves
white fades away in a rainbow                  (Chèvrefeuille)

I really didn’t know how to complete this until I read Tournesol about the Channeled Scablands in Washington State – a place I really hope to visit some year. 

TUBS.  Washington State. Wikimedia. Showing Scablands and Moi.

USGS.  Click to Enlarge.

USGS. Click to Enlarge.

Here’s the story of the Channeled Scablands: 

During the last Ice Age the American states of Montana, Washington and Oregon were covered by ice.  There was an enormous glacial lake – Glacial Lake Missoula – in Montana.  Its volume is estimated at ½ the volume of modern-day Lake Michigan.  Sporadically, the ice dam at Glacial Lake Missoula would burst and cause flooding of apocalyptic proportions.  This happened about forty times.  

Washington State bears the brunt of the damage in the form of the Channeled Scablands.  They’re called “scablands” for a reason:  these lands have been stripped of their soil and they have really irregular features.

Wikipedia says:

“There are also immense potholes and ripple marks, much larger than those found on ordinary rivers… The giant current ripples are between 3.3 and 49.2 feet (1 and 15 m) high and are regularly spaced, relatively uniform hills. Vast volumes of flowing water would be required to produce ripple marks of this magnitude, as they are larger-scale versions of the ripple marks found on streambeds that are typically only centimeters high. Large potholes were formed by swirling vortexes of water called kolks scouring and plucking out the bedrock.”

Weird stuff, those kolks – like underwater tornadoes drilling holes into bedrock.  You’ll see them (on a smaller scale) around waterfalls.  And – there is a very large one in Holland from a flood in 1717.

Kolk. Wikimedia.

Kolk. Wikimedia.

Want to hear Patrick Stewart tell you more about the Scablands?

Go to 0:45 to see 400 foot, vertical basalt cliffs.  They end in a horseshoe that’s twice as tall and five times as wide as Niagara.

Go to 3:13 to see the giant ripples – seriously, they look exactly like something you’d see along a small creek.  And while the Scablands aren’t strictly “desert”, they’re not exactly fertile either.

So at long last, here is my own attempt:

in a desert land
stones from rivers far away
muttering dark tales                                      (MMT)

never content with silence
after having fought with ice                       (Jen R)


Wikimedia (Edited)

NOVA:  Mystery of the Megaflood


18 thoughts on “In a Desert Land / Never Content (Tan Renga)

  1. Pingback: A Deep Rumble (Tanka) | Blog It or Lose It!

  2. What an amazing name – “Channeled Scablands”, straight out of some dystopian fantasy movie, probably with Vin Diesel in it!

    Ah BIOLI is like a mini National Geographic sometimes, I learn so much – that flood contained 10x the amount of water flowing in all the world’s rivers!! Holy moly 🙂 Explains the prevalence of floods in humanity’s early creation myths, no doubt.

    And yes, it looks like an amazing place to visit – sheesh the sheer scale..


    • So glad you share that sense of wonder here! — the scale! the devastation! — even now, after thousands of years! — yikes! You’d really have to see it via airplane to appreciate it. I simply can’t wrap my brain around the thought of that much water. Wow.

      Had to laugh at the Vin Diesel comment though! 🙂

      I go way, way off the beaten track sometimes … we were just supposed to give a response in 7/7 syllables but everyone got a history/geology lesson!


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