The Arctic Prairies By Ernest Thompson Seton

 -  While we lunched, a fawn came and gazed curiously
from a distance of 100 yards. In the after-noon Preble - Page 100
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While We Lunched, A Fawn Came And Gazed Curiously From A Distance Of 100 Yards.

In the after-noon Preble returned from a walk to say that the Caribou were visible in all directions, but not in great bands.

Next morning I was awakened by a Caribou clattering through camp within 30 feet of my tent.

After breakfast we set off on foot northward to seek for Musk-ox, keeping to the eastward of the Great Fish River. The country is rolling, with occasional rocky ridges and long, level meadows in the lowlands, practically all of it would be considered horse country; and nearly every meadow had two or three grazing Caribou.

About noon, when six or seven miles north of Aylmer, we halted for rest and lunch on the top of the long ridge of glacial dump that lies to the east of Great Fish River. And now we had a most complete and spectacular view of the immense open country that we had come so far to see. It was spread before us like a huge, minute, and wonderful chart, and plainly marked with the processes of its shaping-time.

Imagine a region of low archaean hills, extending one thousand miles each way, subjected for thousands of years to a continual succession of glaciers, crushing, grinding, planing, smoothing, ripping up and smoothing again, carrying off whole ranges of broken hills, in fragments, to dump them at some other point, grind them again while there, and then push and hustle them out of that region into some other a few hundred miles farther; there again to tumble and grind them together, pack them into the hollows, and dump them in pyramidal piles on plains and uplands. Imagine this going on for thousands of years, and we shall have the hills lowered and polished, the valleys more or less filled with broken rocks.

Now the glacial action is succeeded by a time of flood. For another age all is below water, dammed by the northern ice, and icebergs breaking from the parent sheet carry bedded in them countless boulders, with which they go travelling south on the open waters. As they melt the boulders are dropped; hill and hollow share equally in this age-long shower of erratics. Nor does it cease till the progress of the warmer day removes the northern ice-dam, sets free the flood, and the region of archaean rocks stands bare and dry.

It must have been a dreary spectacle at that time, low, bare hills of gneiss, granite, etc.; low valleys half-filled with broken rock and over everything a sprinkling of erratic boulders; no living thing in sight, nothing green, nothing growing, nothing but evidence of mighty power used only to destroy. A waste of shattered granite spotted with hundreds of lakes, thousands of lakelets, millions of ponds that are marvellously blue, clear, and lifeless.

But a new force is born on the scene; it attacks not this hill or rock, or that loose stone, but on every point of every stone and rock in the vast domain, it appears - the lowest form of lichen, a mere stain of gray.

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