The bed of Frijoles Creek is paved with fragments of lava and tuff, rounded by flash floods. A sandy drift fills in among the cobbles, and when the sun shines into the shallow ripples you can see the soft, luminous, butterfly-blue glint of clear feldspar crystals sending back the light. Deer come down to drink beneath the cottonwoods and pines.
But I want to draw your attention to a less attractive, but remarkably significant, play of light on the water: an oily sheen – sometimes called the iron slick – obscuring the water flowing over an ugly rusty slime coating the pebbles and twigs on the creek bed.
But to my thoughts the dazzling thing is that here is a fundamental organism that hasn’t died for perhaps a billion years, reproducing by fission, disdaining the sun, reporting the news of the Proterozoic Era, still eking out a living in damp seeps all around the Earth.