Parts of the pointReturn site are rocky. The land slopes away from a small hillock. Years of erosion have not only depleted the top soil but also exposed many rock formations. I decided on the logical course of clearing these to make way for trees and use the rocks as a building material. And that began a learning adventure.
It is possible to visualise how the land may have been, say a thousand years ago. From the foothills of Vellimalai hillocks in the west, running north-south, the land must have fallen sharply forming a ravine and risen again about 300 metres away. Across the ravine, 300 m away, was a north-south chain of rocky piles of a far lower altitude than the Vellimalai range in the west. Beyond this rocky pile, the land fell to a far lesser extent, formed the plains and ran to the sea about 20 km away. This 22 km stretch is fertile almost up to the sea, blessed by deposit of minerals and organic matter carried by rainwater run off.
The following fact let’s you imagine the topography better: Over the 500 metre run of the pointReturn property from the foothills in the west to the fence in the east, the land falls 2.5m. But from there, over the next 22 km run to the sea, it drops only 30 m. That is, the gradient eases from 5m per km to 1.3m per km.
The pointReturn adventure has to do with the harsh end, closer to the hillock, where the worst erosion occurs. Ironically, what has saved it is the ravine that was. My conjecture is that over centuries this ravine has received deposits until it was filled. Rainwater then raced over the filled ravine’s sharply sloping surface, and once over the rocky lip in the east, slowed down and evenly distributed soil over a long run. Even today the run off is at two speeds – fast over the first 300m and then far slower. This leads to a happy conclusion: the ravine, until it was filled must have held water for long periods of time, encouraging organisms to multiply, die and enrich the soil. What’s below this part of the land must be very rich indeed, but unfarmed because no one has cared to arrest the annual run off.