Thursday, January 3, 2013

Shapes of the Seashore: the Salt-Tangles

An old dear friend and I spent the first day of the year by the seaside, watching the stones and kelp-nests, the pelicans gliding close to the waves. I love the sound of the tide washing out against dark rocks, how they purr against each other. 

Ocean and wave-woven.

The dome-shell of an old urchin, like a battered and spiked planet, unmoored.

We found the mouth-beak alongside, where all the food goes in and all the waste goes out. What otherworldly lives these ocean-creatures lead. Humbling, purple spiked, kelp-grazing lives. Once, a healthy sea otter population kept these purple urchins in check, a balance of kelp, otter and urchin. Now, the otters are gone, over-hunted by Russian & American fur-traders in the early 19th century. The massive kelp-beds of yore are gone too. The urchins, wild little spiky creatures, are still about.

Sun-bleached urchin-spines. 

There is a perfect perforation of lace inside each urchin shell.

And the stones, silent on the shore, smoothed over and again by water, have deep and restless histories, tossed by tectonic plates, the living earth.

Kelp-fronds that dance like ripple-robed witches, all connected to some great and slippery umbilical cord.

I love how water wears perfect circles, perfect wholes. I'm not sure what it is, but they are immensely pleasing to look at, to touch with your fingertips. In old British traditions, I once read that stones with holes through them were good luck, for healing and fortune, made by fair folk. Maybe it is universal—to be pleased and comforted by water-worn holes in stones.

I am just madly in love with the wild coast where I live. A thousand thanks to it and all of its creatures this new year.


  1. I love the 'ripple-robed witches'... :)

  2. such lovely photo's. I will be back to see more.

    1. Thank you Susan & Peter, for the kind words, and for visiting! Warm New Year wishes to you.