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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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---continuation commentary #37b----

Under this layer of red soil is rock of fairly loose foliaceous granite; most of all the feldspar it contains is such that it can be held between your Feldspar kaolin, unknown photographerfingers, while the other components, quartz and mica, are fairly small and fragmented, though not altogether pulverized into another form. The feldspar, to the contrary, has changed into Caolin or porcellaneous earth. You will discern now some large crystals of feldspar changed into that form, and now veins of it several finger lengths wide snaking through the rock in different paths. These things being so, you would not be wrong to infer or assert that the red clay mixed with iron and full of flint and mica, which throughout much of the province of Rio de Janeiro makes up the soil in which those magnificent forests grow, arose from foliaceous granite that was loosened in that way; the moisture of the air, which is saturated with a large amount of carbonic acid, plays the principle role in this change.(1)

Therefore it is perfectly understandable that rocks of such composition, which are well-accommodated to healthy plant life if they are Etching 37 Ancient Forest  from Martius's Flora Brasiliensis 1840. Thanks to Lehigh U., Special Collections ! Color by C. Miranda Chor continuously transformed by abundant moisture from the air and dissolved with little difficulty, nourish the luxurious growth of the forests that we admire in those mountains; in addition to this comes nature's foresight, which made the forest itself its own nourisher by attracting rains and drawing them into its shadows. In fact a deeper layer of soil is not needed, as we already mentioned above, so long as the forest remains untouched; indeed the forest itself contributes most of all to the dissolution of the soil and thereby procures its own nourishment.

But where the ground has been laid bare across extensive stretches, especially where a mad fury runs riot with steel and fire from the tops of mountains down to their roots, plant life struggles very much. For in those places where less moisture is drawn from the air or retained, and where the water is able to linger only briefly and cannot sink into the ground, there the primeval forest is not regenerated: then only that form of forest comes forth which is called Capoeira among the inhabitants. (See etching #6) If such a cutting were repeated across the mountain-sides, the ground itself would become utterly feeble and finally a barren dryness would ensue, such as PalestineGreece and other lands which long ago flourished with rich cultivation.

Etching commentary #37b