I have been reading about all sorts of things: books on paleosols, the interpretation of coprolite fossils, root-traces, limestones, ash dating, the magnetic properties of shales. One topic leads me to reference the index of another book, drilling down and down into the materials. Once, I’ve learned, there was a relative of the beaver with a special knack for digging corkscrew-shaped burrows, instead of building lodges. Palaeocastor – whose fossilized burrows are found today just south of the Badlands, exposed in the Arikareean deposits of Western Nebraska. What a beautiful image! Locals, not knowing what these formations were, called them the Devil’s corkscrews. I am left pondering the words of Walt Whitman, whose poems I loved, but who advised: “You must not know too much or be too precise or scientific about birds and trees and flowers and watercraft; a certain free-margin, and even vagueness – ignorance, credulity – helps your enjoyment of these things.” Is this true, Walt? Really? The world fascinates me, in both minutia and grandiosity. The more I learn, the more beautiful it becomes. No mundane burrow or scientific description seems unlovely. How could you be right, Walt Whitman? And yet you were right about so much.