Still Learning To See

Time in the dunes


The dunes are full of roots—grasses and sedges as well as trees and shrubs. As sand shifts with the wind, these plants are often covered or their roots uncovered. The cycle of life and death is never far away. The dead roots of what was a tree or shrub (above) were recently revealed by the moving sands, leaving a fascinating pattern.

I was particularly intrigued by the roots (below) of what was once a very large Juniper shrub, the roots seen here still showing some signs of life.



On the back of this was a stub of a tree (above), a page of history in the life of the dunes. This is probably the very top of what I suspect was a 30-40 foot tall White Cedar tree; my bet is the roots and base of the tree are still far under the ground—a measure of how much sand had moved around it. The roots of the Juniper can be seen clearly to have grown around the Cedar after it died and was buried—all a fun environmental mystery waiting to be explored or even solved! In other dunes along Lake Michigan whole forests, buildings and even villages can be seen either being buried or uncovered by the wind and sand!


Grasses are the early pioneers of dunes stabilization, though they too come and go long before being followed by shrubs and trees. Their roots can be very long and intertwined and are fairly fine compared to the roots of trees.


When they find their way into the mix of time and sand and other pieces of life, they become part of the many patterns I’ve fallen in love with seeing and photographing.


This entry was published on August 26, 2017 at 8:27 am. It’s filed under John Snell, John Snell Photographer, Patterns, Photograph, Summer and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “Time in the dunes

  1. Dianne Shullenberger on said:

    I so connect to these dune pictures. We both appreciate their stories and the intricate patterns. I did my first dune run this past week and always marvel at the power of nature to sculpt a fabulous landscape. Our eyes are so similar. Some days the tops of the dunes will be full of birds and insect footprints and wind patterns. How lucky we are to be able to observe these things.D


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