As a little boy in Piscataway, New Jersey, I would walk home from Eisenhower Elementary School on Stelton Road and see in the distance to the north a long ridge.  I now know this feature to be the Watchung Mountains.

Of course, the name might seem misleading, as the maximum elevation is only a few hundred feet above sea level.  But in New Jersey, such hills will pass for mountains.

Now, nearly five decades later, I still walk to school; only now, I teach at Green Brook Middle School, two towns over.  In the mornings, I still look in wonder at this beautiful ridge, home to Washington Rock, which sits roughly 250 feet above Route 22.

Being an English teacher, I have a fondness for deeper, obscured significance.  I know from my earth science class in grade 9 that this beautiful formation comes courtesy of the last great ice age, which ended roughly 25,000 years ago.

During the last period of glaciation, glaciers would push south during colder periods, then recede north when temperatures rose. This took place over tens of thousands of years.  As the ice made its final series of advances and retreats, it left roughly parallel ridges, or moraines, that are part of the landscape to this day.  The Watchung Mountains that I admire each morning are the terminal moraine, the farthest ridge south and east made by a glacier long before humans arrived in this region.

I try to visualize this long ridge of dirt and rock being pushed forward over a period of centuries by a bulldozer of ice perhaps over a thousand feet thick.  The land being pristine at the time, it must have been a breathtaking vista.

As things are in the present day, I take inspiration from what remains to stimulate my imagination.

I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers March 2023 Slice of Life Challenge.

11 thoughts on “Glacier

    1. Regrettably, climate change has dulled the vibrancy of our autumns. Still, I love looking at “the mountain”—as we call it here—in all seasons.

  1. Thanks for taking me on a walk today, during your childhood, present day and then the history of long ago. I don’t often pause to think about the causes that allow me to enjoy a view. Thanks to your slice, I did today and may do so more in the future. Enjoy your walks!

  2. Very interesting and very well explained, Mr. Fornale! I never thought about how this ridge (our mountain) was formed, shame on me. Isn’t our earth just grand?

  3. I’m just envying that walk to school with that view. I’ve always wanted to live in a sidewalk town with a mountain view and the ability to bike or walk places instead of driving everywhere. This is gorgeous. Oh, what I would do for a glimpse of that beauty.

    1. I adore the location of my life and work, I rarely need to drive anywhere. The “mountain,” however, is a glorified hill, but the view from Washington Rock includes the Manhattan skyline about twenty miles in the distance. It amazes me that so very long ago a glacier edged itself to within a few hundred yards of my school.

      As always, I appreciate that you read my posts and encourage me.

  4. Beautiful view and wonderings…I often lose myself in trying to envision different times, epoch, etc. Sometimes one can get a fleeting sense. #WhyWe Write

    1. I suspect we literary types get our very inspiration from getting lost in such things. I often say this—thank you for your comments and encouragement.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s