BEYOND the POSTCARD VIEW

When I was first getting to know a sheltered bay near my house, I was enthralled by the scenery. The picture-perfect bay is hemmed in by rocky cliffs, making it a place apart, quiet and peaceful. The water there is fairly shallow but a deep, narrow channel just to the south brings a mix of nutrient-filled tidal waters into the bay. The ocean is almost a hundred miles away but the 15-mile wide Strait of Juan de Fuca funnels water from the Pacific all the way back to this bay. When the winds are right the waves are powerful enough to toss huge logs onto the shoreline. It’s a rich, complex habitat, much of which is hidden underwater.

On land there are crooked old Douglas firs, sinuous, orange-barked Madrone trees, and weathered, contorted logs. Herons, ducks, eagles, and kingfishers live here. There are wildflowers tucked into the cliffs and set along the trails, lichens hanging from trees and coloring the rocks, graceful drifts of dune grass, and murky wetlands hemmed with cattails. Four tides wash over the beaches each day – two high and two low – bringing countless changes: stinky blankets of sea lettuce one day, tangles of Bullwhip kelp another day, and countless stray shells and pebbles. Seals and otters make regular appearances, sticking their heads above water to look around and scope out the scene.

All this draws me back like a magnet and gradually, I’ve dug a little deeper than the postcard views that first attracted my attention. I learned that sometimes, the low tide is extra low and when that happens, two beaches that are normally separated by a rocky promontory become one as the water recedes past the base of the cliff. Among the rocks at the bottom of the cliff a careful observer can find odd, ancient creatures called chitons clinging to the dark undersides of still-damp rocks, waiting for the water to cover them up again. Low tides bring discoveries: in the height of summer, a large Lion’s mane jellyfish might wash up. And as if the beach isn’t enough, there are dramatic sunsets over the water. Even the spectacle of kayakers gently gliding away and out of sight is a treat for the eye.

As I return to this particular stretch of sand and rock, again and again, more treasures are revealed. I’ve been looking at patterns in the sand left by waves, animals, or bits of flotsam and jetsam. They’re like calligraphic messages from the world of water, traced on land for us to see, but not for long. Within hours, the tide will rise and wipe it all away. Some of these traces appear very abstract and are especially appealing. Walking here, I focus on the world at my feet, examining changes in texture and color, thinking about how this constant shifting of substances rearranges the world into new patterns, patterns that may or may not fit nicely into that familiar rectangle that my camera imposes on the world.

Then I look up and take in the wider view. Back and forth.

*

1. Here is one of those extra-low tides, called a minus tide. The rocks on the left form the cliff that you normally must climb over to reach the beach in the background. By checking tide tables, you can find windows of time when more beach is exposed, a good hunting ground for patterns.
2. Just visible in the upper right are marks left by the tide. At least one of those marks was made by this strand of eelgrass (Zostera marina), a U-shaped blessing of green against a solemn beige background of fine sand.
3. It’s easy to imagine a brush making these marks. Eelgrass as gesture.
4.
5. This view is from just past the rocks in #1, looking in the same direction. Successive lines of sea lettuce (Ulva fenestrata) washed up with the tide. Soon the tide will turn and the seaweed will be lifted up again, added back to the endless, living stew of bay water.
6.
7.

8.
9.
10. Always nearby, always watchful, the Great blue heron abides.
11.
12.
13.
14. Like the herons, Song sparrows (Melospiza melodia) are constant companions at the beach, flying about in the underbrush or flitting around the driftwood logs.
15.
16.
17. In the middle, a branch, to the left and right, pieces of Bullwhip kelp.
18. This is the opposite end of the bay from #5. There’s no sand here. Instead, a steep cliff abruptly meets the water in a tumbled tangle of rocks, driftwood, and detritus. Someday that leaning Douglas fir tree will fall.

***


67 comments

  1. Good evening, dear Lynn,
    we especially love your ‘beach still lifes’ (2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 16, 17 and especially 15). The simplicity and the colours make harmonious pictures.
    Wishing you all the best and thank you very much for sharing
    The Fab Four of Cley
    πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly, Gerda, they are like paintings, that’s what I love about them. It’s fun to find these abstract designs, you just have to look carefully. That one red leaf was a surprise – we don’t have many plants with red leaves here. It’s good to hear from you!

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    • The sea lettuce can be very smelly when it piles up but it enriches the sandy soil. The beach is always changing so the slimy piles never last long. πŸ™‚ Nothing wrong with the pretty postcard view though! πŸ˜‰

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  2. I like the curve in 1)
    3 gesture. Gestural painting, an important direction in art
    4 very nice!
    5 landart
    6,7,8 very nice
    9 baked rocks or cake
    11,12 superb
    13 foot
    15 left and right
    16 can be clay-structures πŸ™‚
    17 somehow intellectual photoart
    18 There is a big line, maybe the Golden ratio, kind of.

    Have a good day, Lynn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s fun to read your reactions…yes, gestural painting – you can feel it in your arm, can’t you? I like the idea of #5 as land art. #11 & #12 show patterns the water makes in the sand, which I love to study. Sometimes there aren’t any at all because the water is too high. Sometimes there are too many footprints. But other times there are lots of these patterns with no human footprints. Yes, #16 is a lot like clay. I’m not sure why that happens in some places and not in other places – it must be a stronger current in the water. Your comment on #17 made me smile. It’s true, it’s like a mind game. In #18 I think you’re talking about the eye moving across the frame, following the logs and the tree? Thanks very much for your thoughtful comments, Gerhard.

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      • #18: I mentioned the thick waterline from left to the middle of the picture.

        Some of my comments were rather short, but I knew you would understand.

        I think there is much more in your pics. Really. They are mainly compositions, with sometimes hidden “signs” and meaning.

        A lot of people and me too rush too fast over pics. We are all in time trouble….

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  3. Lynn, I think you’ve outdone yourselfβ€”again. I was just going to spend a little little bit more time with your post before turning to the work I need to do. But I read β€œblessing of green” and had to give in to it completely. Your introductory paragraphs set up expectations that your photographs fulfill. I want to tell you which are my favorites, but then I’d name them all. I will say that #7 made me laugh, but I can’t explain why it strikes me as funny. Black and white seems like a particularly good choice for #10, contrasts being so important in that photograph. I especially like how you have placed the bird in the frame. There’s something Art Nouveau about #13; maybe it’s the extra-long aspect ratio. The sequencing of #s 15, 16, and 17 works very wellβ€”those curves. Each of these photographs is a gem. I’ll come back and drink them in again. Now to work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That phrase in the caption of #2 wasn’t too corny then? I’m glad! I can see #7 as a comical character with sprawled legs, like someone doing slapstick. It’s amazing to see all the positions those strips of eelgrass get into, and sometimes I’ll watch a strand as it waves in a shallow bit of water, back and forth, before it’s deposited. Or not. It’s mesmerizing. I think the heron in #10 reflects the way they relate to this landscape, always as solitary figures surrounded by a fair amount of space but totally a part of it, at one with it. In #13 maybe it’s the sinuous curve, too. Water makes such wonderful curves. The sequencing overall was particularly hard this time around, between the photos expressing different moods and the colors being different because they were taken at different times. Good to hear some of it works OK after all the back and forth. I’ve been wondering what’s up – you’re busy with something – hope it’s going well. Great to hear from you!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Serene and comforting; it would be nice to step into the scene and ‘just be.’

    Those extra low and high tides are called ‘aguajis’ here, and the shrimp farmers schedule their harvest when the tides go lower than normal- which gives them more time to drain the ponds and harvest at the same time.

    The fishermen are able to return from 12 hours of fishing and ‘full throttle’ their boats to the high-tide area of the beach. Dramatic times and great photo ops.

    I always treasured exploring those low-tide areas as well. You’ve captured them well.

    That sparrow image looks like a well-rendered painting!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I remember you explaining how the shrimp farms operate before, but not the specifics. I love the effects of the lower and higher tides. Last year at this time there was a huge windstorm which must have combined with a high tide to throw a tremendous amount of driftwood way back past the usual high tide line, destroying trails and beach plants along the way. It looked terrible the morning after but over the summer, things grew back in and of course, trail crews tidied up. But these extreme weather events are happening more and more, as you are well aware. We have a flood watch and a landslide watch today.
      The SOng sparrow – do you remember them from the south? I’m not sure how common they are there but they’re common in the northeast. Ours is darker, plainer, but a sweet companion with a happy song. I see what you mean about this – it’s flattened a little. I like that effect. This is a crop because I don’t use very long lenses and rarely use zoom lenses. If they made a longer lens that was compact and lightweight, I’d sure be tempted.
      Great to see your comment, Lisa! Happy weekend!

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      • And a happy weekend to you as well. My younger friends invited me to attend a ‘kino jam’ and no one knows what that is.. I first said, ‘no, thank you — you can tell me about it..’ and then i thought, ‘lisa! whatever this is, it’s probably important that you witness whatever it is.’ I asked them if it were at the nearby Casa de la Cultura, and if so I would see them there. The reply, “We’ll pick you up at 5:30.”
        It’s a bit after 5 now, so I’m shutting down the computer and leaving the museo! Have a good weekend as well!

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  5. I feel you have really tuned in to the cosmos sending you asemic messages. The eelgrass forms are most intriguing, wonderfully set against that gritty negative space. #8 especially appeals in this regard. The frozen moment of the silhouetted abiding heron in #10 also gives pause for contemplation. And those dry rivulet beds temporarily etched into the sandy substrate fascinate. Wonderful collection!

    βœ¨πŸ™πŸ•‰πŸŒ±πŸŒΏπŸŒ³πŸŒ»πŸ’šπŸ•Šβ˜―πŸ‰βœ¨

    Liked by 1 person

    • There was a passing thought about referring to that word (asemic) again here but then I forgot to do it, so what a nice surprise to read your comment. Eelgrass is perfect for that, isn’t it? #8 seemed to work well with the color drained away. Glad you like it. And the heron. They are ubiquitous but I never tire of them, somehow they will always have an otherwordly air for me. A totem bird. Thank you for your thoughts, Graham, enjoy your weekend. (Imagine a string of cool icons here) πŸ™‚

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      • “Eelgrass is perfect for that, isn’t it? ” Yes!
        “A totem bird” perhaps your spirit guide πŸ˜‰
        “enjoy your weekend” oh, and you too!!!
        “Imagine a string of cool icons here” I am seeing them already.

        πŸ˜ŒπŸ™βœ¨

        Liked by 1 person

  6. with your camera and eye for detail each visit to the bay will never be the same – every new tide a new set of art works in the sand – we humans can only hope to create such things with that same ‘accidental’ sense of zen – thank you for sharing such marvels. The sparrow photo is so well captured and I admire the tones in the other end of the bay
    p.s. general comment – your captions are never corny!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Accidental in quotes, yes. And never the same. I’m glad you see the beauty in these humble compositions and enjoy it. The sparrow was a big crop but it worked out. They’re always around and sometimes, they hold still for a second or so. πŸ˜‰ So the captions pass the cornball test, yea! Thank you, Laura, that’s helpful. Enjoy your weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This coming and going of the look between the general and the detail, almost makes us feel walking through this place.
    The details that the sand and the seashore allow for are always beautiful and this post illustrates it very well. And Lynn is an expert in this type of detail!
    I like to think that they are beautiful graphisms that Mother Nature draws for us to appreciate!
    Have a nice weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, it’s so good to hear that going back and forth between the wider view and the closeups helps you feel like you’re there. I think it’s good to have a sense of the context, rather than just the details. And as you know, I love to focus on details. You’re right, Mother Nature is always leaving graphic messages for us, whether we see them or not. When we do, they’re delightful. Thank you for sharing your appreciation, and you have a great weekend, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Wonderful series, Lynn. Image #9 instantly took me back to my childhood of walking in the narrow ‘furrow’ of water next to rocks where the tide had left pockets of seawater. I can feel the squelching of the sand through my toes as I try to walk in the shallow water left by the tide.
    Isn’t a funny how a single photo can take you back in time (and place). It doesn’t have to be a postcard-perfect landscape view either. It can be a simple subject in the smallest of spaces. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a nice memory, and so vivid. It’s really a multi-sensory experience, isn’t it? Our water stays cool (you might say cold!) so I rarely walk barefoot here but I’ve enjoyed that feeling in other places. It’s nice that the photo brought it back. Last year, for a while even the parks were closed because of COVID, in the early days when people weren’t sure how it was spreading. When this one was opened back up I relished the feeling of that beach underfoot, even in hiking shoes – there’s a certain kind of give that the sand has there. Delicious! Thanks, Vicki.

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  9. What a treat this series of photo you created are, Lynn. Easy to relish in the peacefulness of the scene. It would be something else to have such a piece of land/bay near your home ~ there is always something of interest, a treasure as you describe, in any stretch of sand and rock and these photos are proof πŸ™‚

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    • Exactly – it was a lucky break to find something affordable here. It gets a little crowded on weekends in the warmer months but there’s plenty of time the rest of the year when one can revel in the peacefulness. I hope you get back to the PNW before too long. Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the weekend!

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    • It’s part of Deception Pass, the most popular state park in the state (but not nearly as popular as MT. Rainier, which is a national park). This section isn’t as busy as the parts closer to the Deception Pass bridge but it does get a lot of visitors in the summer. Still, going on weekdays and in the off-season makes a big difference. And how many people notice these wonderful scenes? Very few, I think. So that makes it as you said, like exposing the underbelly. πŸ™‚

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  10. ‘They’re like calligraphic messages from the world of water, traced on land for us to see, but not for long.’.. multi interpretable, so you can give them any meaning you like.. Nr4 is about movement for me. The dynamic sand patterns are a memory of how the water gently floated back, finding it’s way along and under the static lettuce leaf. When the flood comes it will be a complete different story.. In nr5 I like the lines. I can see you out there, searching and reading messages, ’till the flood wakes you up.. πŸ™‚

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    • Yes, calligraphic messages…very temporary…always changing. And what you said about #4 is what I love about these wrinkles in the sand, too – the way you can see and appreciate what the water did, where it had to go around something, where was unimpeded. The lines in #5 were seaweed but sometimes they’re just a wavy line in the sand and sometimes they’re little needles from the trees. But let’s not talk about a flood! A tsunami is possible here if we get an earthquake offshore, and we’re supposed to get one sometime. Hopefully, if it happens in our lifetime there will be a warning. πŸ™‚ Thanks Harrie.

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      • πŸ˜…πŸ˜… Talking about messages and meaning… in Dutch the words for low and high tide are Eb and Vloed. So, when I used the word Flood, I meant Vloed, because they pretty much sound the same… Your Flood is much more heavy than the high tide, or flow that I meant. πŸ™ƒβœ‹

        Liked by 1 person

        • πŸ™‚ Ooohh! Funny. Ebb in English – you probably know this – also indicates a low tide. So right, the story changes with the Eb and Vloed of the tides. Thanks! (And coincidentally, the nearest river – not on Fidalgo Island but about 20 min away – flooded this week.)

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  11. How lucky it is to have such a diverse paradise in the immediate vicinity.Β  In addition, one in permanent change, so that it never gets boring to pay it a visit.

    Β Whenever you mention distances, I am always surprised by the different dimensions in which we live: when I look at your residential area on a map, I always imagine that you are constantly and everywhere surrounded by the nearby sea.Β  Then I read here that the sea is about 100 miles away from you – and for me that is the distance of a small journey and not much less than our way to the North Sea measures.

    Β Again and again I am charmed by the mysterious symbols of the sea that you show us.Β  And I find the idea of ​​a bay very wild and romantic, which can only be reached on foot (and left again!) by people during a rare constellation of tides.Β  Your photos of it show so much untouched nature that you cannot find so often in the smallsmall Europe

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    • A diverse paradise, nice! πŸ˜‰ I think it’s very hard to picture the way geography works here. The shape of Washington State is odd. Having islands in saltwater but far from the actual ocean is unusual. The “real” ocean is far away but that Pacific water flows down the strait and surrounds us. Since the island isn’t very big, we’re never far from water. But instead of the wide-open ocean, there are almost always more islands on the horizon.
      Maybe I wasn’t clear about getting to one part of the beach. Again, it’s hard to picture. I can walk there anytime, but I have to follow a trail that goes up a steep cliff – the rocks in #1. Up then down, and it’s not far. But when the tide is very low you don’t have to climb the trail over the rocks, you can just walk around them on the sand. That’s the fun part.
      Another strange thing is that in winter, the very low tides only occur at night. So you have to use the trail all winter. Then sometime in spring or summer the cycle changes and the very low tides begin to happen during daylight hours. It’s complex!!
      Up here in the Pacific Northwest, there are still many wild places. That’s one of the main reasons we decided to move out here. The American east coast is more like Europe in some ways.
      Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending time in an urban space – we went to a conservatory in Seattle. What a treat! πŸ˜‰ It’s good to hear from you….

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      • The conservatory must have been great for you also to take photos, der Lynn. But even though you wouldn’t find many of them in the countryside, it doesn’t sound to me particularly urban, like streets, bars, shops, museums and so on. But once in Seattle, you will have had a serving of all that, too.

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        • True, it’s not urban. And it’s in a park which is in a residential neighborhood. But at this point, it felt almost urban to us! πŸ˜‰ Even walking from the park to a neighborhood restaurant was very different because the houses and landscaping there are very different from here. I was thinking that I should go to Seattle more often. πŸ™‚

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  12. I tend to allot a bit more time to your posts since they often take me into another world or way of thinking. Or I visit more than once before commenting. Love the way you put, so eloquently, your journey of exploring your new habitat. It’s wonderful for me to experience all over again through you! I also love comparing your discoveries to the ones I’ve found down here. The similarities v. differences are what makes it extra interesting. #1 echoes (in a fashion) minus tides down at Bandon. Your version is much the same, but greener.
    #11 your sculpted sand is so similar to one I captured along the coast north of here. again the same, but different. So many miles to the north. Then again I’ve moved a stretch farther south for a different sort of comparison. Isn’t it simply wonderful?
    There are times I wish I had words like yours. πŸ€”

    Hoping your storm has abated. πŸ€—

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for spending time here, Gunta, I really appreciate hearing that. Seriously! I agree about comparing our respective landscapes – it’s really interesting. I think you’re just far south enough to be in quite a different realm, but still, many things are similar. Endlessly fascinating (BTW yesterday I went to a conservatory in Seattle that has pitcher plants). It’s funny that Howard commented right after you and also mentions Bandon.
      Yes, it’s wonderful. πŸ˜‰ You do fine with words, IMHO.
      No flooding here, since a small island doesn’t have big rivers. πŸ˜‰ But what a different story not far away. Parts of I-5 were closed for a while. A semi truck – I told you this, right? – blew over onto the railing of the Deception Pass bridge. But up in BC is where it’s really bad. They’re hurting!
      Thanks for your good thoughts, Gunta….

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      • I remember hearing old timers calling this stretch on down to Brookings the “banana belt of the Oregon Coast”. We do enjoy mostly mild weather it’s true. It’s rather fun to hear of Howard’s discoveries of beautiful Bandon. He reminds me of the first time I was fortunate enough to wander there at the minus tides. The changes are quite phenomenal from one moment to the next, or day to day, even more so with the seasons. I’m hoping Kenneth is OK up there in BC, Eric reminded me that much of that road we took from the Olympic Peninsula to Port Angeles was just flooded. Crazy times.

        In the meantime we watch the changes happening down at the creek. We’re at the front end of a storm coming it, but the creek has already receded some since the last rain blast we had. Seems a time to hunker down until the skies clear! (Though I did have an enjoyable walk this morning! 😊
        Yikes! the weekend is just about upon us. Hope you have a good one.

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      • I remember hearing old timers calling this stretch on down to Brookings the “banana belt of the Oregon Coast”. We do enjoy some mostly mild weather.
        ​Hope you’re staying high and dry! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

        • From what I understand, somewhere a little north of you there’s a change that makes your part of the coast more like neighboring northern CA than like the rest of the OR coast, weather-wise, and that changes the flora and fauna a little, etc. We got through the storm pretty well, considering – just a few trees down, no power outages on Fidalgo. Yes, Ken in BC must have been hit hard. I hope they’re OK. The far end of the Olympic peninsula (Neah Bay/Makah Reservation) down here is cut off – no road access.
          So glad you got out for a walk – we have to sneak out between storms these days. Enjoy the weekend!

          Liked by 1 person

        • I’ve read mention of some competition between Oregon and Washington over who has the point sticking out the farthest into the Pacific Ocean. Oregon’s contender is Cape Blanco -a bit to our north. I forget the name of the one in your state. On our many trips up and down that section north and south of Blanco, we’ve learned to expect a shift in the weather in that area. Just to the south of us (Cape Sebastian) though not sticking out quite as far west, also seems to create a pocket where again, weather can be dramatically different at various times. We’ve encountered that odd occasion while driving to the top of Cape Sebastian to see out over fog that clings to the coastline while some of the sea crags look to be islands in a sea of fog. A bit spooky to be honest.

          ​I’m actually learning to enjoy that ebb and flow of sneaking out between storms… followed by soup by the wood stove, watching the creek rising. β€‹πŸ•‰

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  13. Love the patterns. Until recently I was working a week a month in Coos Bay, Oregon and would go to Bandon to photograph. Your images and words brought me back there. Being a city dweller I never realized how much can change between high and low (and minus) tides and the living creatures that suddenly become visible. It really is amazing. And the patterns that can be seen,as you have shown, are amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, you’re not going to Coos Bay anymore? I bet you’re missing it! (Not Coos Bay, but Bandon!). Even though our family visited my grandparents, who lived on an island off Georgia, I had no clue about tides. Well, I do remember being able to walk very far out and being careful to turn back in time….but moving here has been an education! As you have seen, too. I’m glad I can give you a little taste of the west coast now and then. πŸ˜‰

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