A book titled “ Underland: A Deep Time Journey” by Robert Macfarland tells the story of what takes place beneath our feet, both geographical and eschatological.

It is blazingly vivid about the terror and grandeur of both the natural world and the consequences of human destructiveness upon the Earth. Like the role that anthracite played in the Pocono-Northeast, the book quotes another treatise titled “ Vertical” by Stephen Graham, describing the dominance of what he calls “the flat tradition of geography and cartography, and the largely horizontal worldview that has resulted. We find it hard to escape the resolutely flat perspectives to which we have become habituated and he finds this to be a political failure as well as a perceptual one, for it disciplines us to attend to the sunken networks of extraction, exploitation and disposal that support the surface world.”

He points to deep time as a radical perspective, provoking us to action not apathy: “For to think in deep time can be a means not of escaping our troubled present, but rather of re-imagining it; countermanding its quick greeds and furies with older, slower stories of making and unmaking.” It would be a “gift , inheritance, and legacy stretching over millions of years past and millions to come, bringing us to consider what we are leaving behind for the epochs and beings that will follow us.”

Geologists speak of “trace fossils” which is a “sign of life left in the rock record by the impress of life rather than life itself. A dinosaur footprint is a trace fossil. So are boreholes, funnels, pipes, slithers, and tracks which become stone memories. In the language of forestry and forest ecology, “ the understory is the name given to the life that exists between the forest floor and the tree canopy . . . It is also the sum of the entangled, evergrowing narratives, histories, ideas, and words that interweave to give a wood or forest its diverse life in culture.”

This pathway is found everywhere in this region as it is in all locations throughout the world. Think about the steps that you take in a regional context and begin to enjoy the outer rim as well as the wonderful areas below your feet. We are surrounded by trees that respond to the stress of climate change and soil fungi as a key indicator of future forest resilience. It is all around us in this region and just needs to be remembered as we pass through the tree of life across our region.

The author feels as if there’s something to hear and ”follows leaf to branch, branch to trunk, trunk to root and from there down along the hyphae that web the earth below.” Cities are both lateral and vertical, and we need to think about what all this means as communities become essential to the lifeblood of regional thinking.

Cities or communities become upward and downward, by tunnels, escalators, basements, graveyards, wells, buried cabling and mine workings. A life inside this region exists wherever mining took place, some good and much not so good as witnessed by financing that has enabled significant change to take place and almost every industrial park once had been a mining site. Catacombs exist in many communities worldwide and require renewed interest and thinking, especially inside the invisible cities that produce new approaches to vertical and below the sea strata, even within this region.

We need to examine what we see and what we do not see below us and find ways to take advantage of both. Rivers are both what we see and that which we do not see below us and in other environs. Macfarlane points what we see with our own eyes, and what to many examples across the world where rivers cut through both surface and below surface configurations.

Caves are examples of what is below the surface and should be explored, both in urban and rural landscapes. Exploration of areas that have been left alone could enable discovery of new faces and events of history well beyond the norm. Not every discovery has meaning, however, much remains to be studied and searched. Macfarlane points to many places where he has been and has yet to discover. Based upon his research, here are some ideas that could be developed inside this region in the future.

• Undertake a search of what exists below the regional surface and determine the various functions that could occur as a result.

• Develop a new industry that relates to the underland conditions.

• Focus attention on what has been generated historically below the regional surface and secure ways to determine their place in our historic past . While anthracite has had many distractions, its subsequent role should be amplified.

• Determine what truly exists below the regional surface and highlight discoveries by professional geologists and other sources.

• Utilize the talent in educational institutions and bring others to the region to focus attention below the surface as well as the vertical conditions that are vital to regional life.