August 15, 2014
Electro-aquatic music for my favorite sea vegetables.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted any photographs featuring the actual kelp that surrounds me, and from which all my notes– musical and otherwise– appear to spring (at least, per the title of this blog). Thus, dear reader, I humbly submit this slippery, salty offering.
One of the great things about my beach is that order to get onto the sand, you’ve gotta walk down a narrow trail lined with dense Pacific-Northwesty vegetation. No matter how brightly the sun shines above, it’s always mysteriously dark and cool here. Trees, ferns, mosses and dirt compete for space alongside a little creek, and the smell is indescribably green green green. That’s a smell, isn’t it? The uninitiated might ponder littering breadcrumbs in their wake, just to find the way back.
But by the time those Big Bad Wolf thoughts appear, your eyes are greeted with a sudden expanse. This usually happens just after you remind yourself that phew, there are no wolves on San Juan Island.
Every shore I’ve ever seen in this archipelago is laden with an astonishing amount of large driftwood. Each is a piece of evidence divulging the tale of wild storms and endless high tides that shoved these heavy logs allllll the way to the base of the hillside. Try lifting one of these puppies sometime, and you’ll be in awe of the sea’s power to alter landscapes.
Or course, not only the sea, but a few short neighbors, have also been known to be beachfront property real estate developers.
Any Northwest beach visit begins with a hazing ritual to be endured in order to reach the sand. I do my best to gingerly step on, over and in between the rickety driftwood and avoid twisting an ankle. Or two. Been there, done that; please remind me to post an entertaining account someday of how, on a Malibu beach in September of 2002, I managed to break both of my feet in three places, simultaneously. That’s right. No mere amateur can pull off that stunt; only a well-seasoned professional klutz like yours truly.
You can’t make this stuff up. I stayed amused at the expense of the dignity of my toenails.
So yes, I try to avoid maiming myself yet again (lemme tell ya, life in a wheelchair for a month results in a sobering sympathy for those seated there permanently). I also try to appear like the experienced local I am to anyone else who might be watching. Except that in all my many years living on beaches in So Cal and San Juan, tromping amidst wood, rocks and tidepools, I will never quite look like the mermaid sprite I wish I were. Just the awkward nerd I truly am.
Having cleared the terrifying hurdles of the driftwood blockade, my mud boots and I are rewarded with the security of a smooth beach (oh, those boots not only keep my toes warm in the 48 degree water and declare that I’m a local, but scream that I’m the marine biologist I aspire to be when I’m not aspiring to be a mermaid sprite). I walk toward my favorite kelp-encrusted rock, beyond which I can see my favorite roof.
Beyond this rock at low tide, are my favorite patterns of the sea’s artwork.
Onward to more kelp. So many kinds. And yup, I can name most of them, but I’d prefer that you keep reading so I won’t bore you to tears with my wannabe marine biologist bad self.
I love how the curl of the clear sea magnifies the plants for a precious moment.
I try to be careful where I trod,
because the kelp protects its small, squishy neighbors, like these anemones,
and sometimes unexpectedly serves as an elegant display stand for a skyward visitor,
and once in a while, balances delicately, with no one other than me to protect it.
Last week a dam in British Columbia burst, and millions upon millions of gallons of toxic waste from a mining operation suddenly flowed freely into some of the most pristine waters in the world. It’s entirely possible that now, on the eve of their migration back to the Fraser river, the largest run of Sockeye salmon will be devastated.
Not to mention the effect of the toxicity on every other life form in the area, kelp and all.
One could string together many of my blog posts over the years and create a chain of love letters to the sea and its diverse life forms. I share these little moments of appreciation, hopeful that my viral delight is contagious through your screen, and that you too will feel as protective as I of those creatures unable to fend off the abuses of our thoughtless bully species. Here’s one more link in my chain of adoration, and hope. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someday, human societies evolve into a culture of awareness that is as careful where it trods as any lone, klutz-prone beachcomber.
Lucky sand worm!