The ravines winding though the Allendale campus of Grand Valley Sate are among the university’s most prominent physical features. They are a place of learning and scientific discovery, of recreation and leisure, and of inspiration and quiet reflection.
“The ravines formed by the episodic erosion of small streams over the last 15,000 years. Water flowing off the upland, upon which Grand Valley State University is built, drains eastward into the Grand River Valley via the ravines. This broad, gently sloping, upland was formed during the Ice Age by a glacier lobe depositing sediment in a large glacial lake. Following this glaciation, the Grand River began eroding its valley through this landscape. The ravines probably began forming at about the same time, and by about 6,000 years ago they had grown to roughly their present dimensions. During the last 6,000 years the ravines have grown during brief episodes of erosion alternating with long periods of stability.”
– Patrick M. Colgan, A Brief Geologic History of the Ravines
These photographs of Grand Valley’s ravines were taken by Stanley Krohmer, Affiliate Faculty in the Liberal Studies Department, between 2003 and 2007 for the Ravines Revisited project.
Hepatica, with its liver-lobed leaves,
springs forth in season.
Trillium opens white handerchiefs
along clefts leading down to the run-off.
Wildflowers. Nothing instructs the novice
so well as obsession
and gratitude; after a long winter,
dog-tooth violets lining the ravines.
Maybe it is splendid to spill
down crevasses with a lover
and an hour to spend, but better yet
to enter alone, tread softly as a doe
between fiddleheads, face low,
notebook in a pocket or a field guide
to the native flora, revelation
leading to reverence. Small blooms.
Small hours. The brevity,
and the endurance, upon these slopes
impresses. Take note how little’s needed
to make a life. Gather the facts.
Ann E. Michael, ’79
poem submitted to the GVSU Ravines Archive in 2005
Additional poems, recollections, and short stories inspired by the Grand Valley ravines are accessible in the Special Collections & University Archives.