STATES of BEING: At Rest

This post is one in a series I call “States of Being.” Other posts in the series include “Curved” and “Absorbed.”

I like seeing what comes to rest on the beach when the tide goes out. It’s a tenuous kind of rest – soon the water will climb back up and rearrange everything. But at least for a few hours, the serendipity of random arrangements can be enjoyed by anyone with a curious eye. I’m going to call these arrangements natural still lifes. (Spellcheck doesn’t like ‘lifes’ but it’s correct in this case!)

Below, strands of eelgrass loop around smooth pieces of driftwood, like festive presents. Sometimes stalks of kelp look like hastily penned notes, legible to those familiar with asemic writing. Or torn bits of sea lettuce are scattered across the sand like confetti. Speaking of sand, sharp eyes will notice ghost-pale, wavy patterns of sand grains on the smoothest parts of the beach. They’re a record of each pause between the slow breaths of gently receding waves. Or are they abstract drawings? In #4 below, a group of thick kelp stalks curved together in a surprisingly orderly fashion. The tide must have been strong enough to push them together but not so strong that they were tangled up. Just so.

States of rest on tidal shores seem especially precious to me because of their ephemeral nature.

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After the wind has whipped the water and its contents into great, tortured piles and dumped them on the beach, odd things can be found. Tiny treasures resting in the jumbled tangles of marine life might be revealed to the curious beachgoer. In #5 you can see the holdfast of a kelp plant that grew over a barnacle instead of a rock, which is what kelp plants are normally anchored to. A storm ripped the barnacle off something and sent it for a wild ride on tossing waves. There it was, in a mass of soggy kelp and seaweeds unceremoniously dumped ashore. In #6 there’s another oddity I found: a small marine invertebrate called a Bristly tunicate or a Hairy sea squirt. It was still clinging to an odd lump of orange substance that I can’t identify.

And buried deep in another knot of kelp and seaweed, a tiny white starfish, or sea star, glowed like a star that had lost its way and tumbled down into Neptune’s dark realm.

These bits of marine life might be back in the waters of the Salish Sea by now, riding the waves until they come to rest again.

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Torn from maple trees during a storm, wet leaves came to rest on the leathery salal bushes that grow along the trail. The nature-made leaf collage was topped by a single rust-colored Douglas fir needle, released from a tree branch after the summer drought. I wonder how long the needle and leaves remained at rest like this?

For a long time, I’ve been intrigued by the way leaves fall and land on one another or are caught somewhere before reaching the ground. In a California Redwood forest, I noticed a Redwood leaf stalk woven into a Maidenhair fern frond. Just think: it had to fall at precisely the right angle and rate to have landed like that. Maybe a gentle breeze helped. A small wonder.

An odder sight was a stray chunk of Northern elephant seal fur shed by a seal during her annual molt. How it got up into the wildflowers, I don’t know, but the beach where the seal rests while renewing her coat is often windy.

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Inanimate objects can come to rest for a very long time. Take the old truck seen below. It’s been in the patch of wet woods for so many years that it’s grown a coat of thick moss. Maybe a tree will sprout there.

Heaps of plastic or fabric that have been abandoned always interest me. Sometimes a pile of material is unintentionally draped as gracefully as the folds of fabric in an Old Master painting. That was the case with the nets below that were used to protect apple trees from insects. I saw them in a garden, where they probably had been left for a short time before being stored somewhere safe from the ravages of winter.

Once I found a mannequin that was used on a photo shoot resting in a random heap with other props. The props were probably put away soon after I came across them. Finding the mannequin was pure serendipity. He seems to be contemplating his future – an interesting one, I would think.

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What about people at rest? Rest allows the parasympathetic nervous system to come on board and do what it’s made to do: slow down the stress response that’s activated so often by modern life. When we rest, the immune system is strengthened, blood pressure comes down, the heart rate slows, food is digested, and the mind relaxes. That’s good stuff! But rest isn’t always easy to find.

Big museums never seem to have enough places to sit down. The single available seat on the bench below was probably taken within minutes. A street musician in Ghent, Belgium, caught my eye as he took a cigarette break. He seemed to own his resting spot! One evening as I walked around lower Manhattan after work, a fisherman stepped away from his pole to contemplate the view. Just watching him watch the water eased my mind.

Rest is a relative term – how still is anything really? We know that motion is constant but rest balances motion.

It’s a grace period in this twirling, whirring life.

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75 comments

  1. Stunning photography and beautiful words. Rest. That’s what we all need right now. A good lie down. To simply be, so we may open our eyes and really see. Thank you for sharing such an eloquent post. πŸ™

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I’m glad you enjoyed this. I’ll admit, it took a while to put together – lots of editing – but if people get something from the experience, it’s worth the effort, for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Fine Post again, Lynn. Your story reminded me of a toy I once got when I was a kid. It was a plastic little drawingboard. You could make a black-line-drawing on the plastic and when it was finished; or something went wrong, there was a slider which you could slide up and down the board; and after that the drawing had disappeared completely and the board was ready for a new drawing. Kind of Eb and Flood thing. I didn’t like it because of the plastic feel and the impossibility of drawing details. That’s why nr3 is today’s winner, with all those subtle lines and textures. Stay calm and shoot’m! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Harrie. I wasn’t really aware of those lines in the sand at first but once I really saw them, I was fascinated. Now I always look for them. The far-right photo was made after raindrops splashed in the sand. πŸ™‚ Interesting story about the drawing board. Did you have Etch-a-Sketch in the Netherlands? That’s the one where you have to draw using two dials that you twist right and left, which makes it really hard to draw diagonals or smooth curves. Then you turn it upside down and shake it to start again. Frustrating and fun at the same time. Like life sometimes? Stay calm and shoot ’em? πŸ™‚ πŸ˜‰ πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I always like the expression ‘flotsam and jetsam’. Though I have no idea what the individual words mean I don’t need to know- they’re so descriptive in themselves. You are very good at observing the flotsam and jetsam of life, Lynn.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautifully contemplative. Beautifully illustrated.

    And talking of still lifes [sic], saw this yesterday:

    https://artuk.org/discover/stories/lemons-and-lobsters-and-cabbages-oh-my-symbolic-food-in-painting?utm_source=Art+UK+Newsletter&utm_campaign=843b743abb-WEEKLY_NEWSLETTER_2022_11_29&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d3a24f9a65-843b743abb-106874704&mc_cid=843b743abb&mc_eid=c435bfeead

    β–ͺβ—Ύβ—Όβ—Ύβ–ͺβ–«β—½β—»β—½β–«β–ͺβ—Ύβ—Όβ—Ύβ–ͺβ–«β—½β—»β—½β–«β–ͺβ—Ύβ—Όβ—Ύβ–ͺ
    β–«β—½β—»β—½β–«β–ͺβ—Ύβ—Όβ—Ύβ–ͺβ–«β—½β—»β—½β–«β–ͺβ—Ύβ—Όβ—Ύβ–ͺβ–«β—½β—»β—½β–«

    Liked by 1 person

    • That truck was an amazing sight. I don’t know if it’s there now – it was near the town I used to live in. Here in the Pacific Northwest, the climate is so wet that moss grows on metal. I thought that was very strange when I came here from the east coast of the US. Thanks for commenting, Rudi, and have a nice evening.

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  5. Dear Lynn, your pictures and words are striking a certain string of sensitivity and, as you call it, grace. None are flat or dull. This is why I enjoy them so much. “The serendipity of random arrangements can be enjoyed by anyone with a curious eye.” So true! (I do like the english expression serendipity.) Regards – Karl

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s always good to hear from you, Karl. I always liked the word “serendipity.”: There was a popular, upscale cafe that served elaborate ice cream dishes in NYC named Serendipity. That word made someone a lot of money. OK, I guess it was more than the word. πŸ˜‰

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  6. This post really celebrates not just your great photography but also your excellent powers of observation πŸ™‚ You notice the tiniest details! I love the patterns on the sand, the sea squirt colours and the leaf caught up in the fern.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Do you see the raindrops in the one on the right? It took me a little while to pick up on those lines but once I began to see them I couldn’t stop looking for them. So glad they appeal, Ken, thanks for letting me know.

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  7. I feel rested simply having read your words and viewed your photos. They’re gorgeous. I’ve been thinking about rest in the seasonal sense today as we had a snowstorm here in Minnesota yesterday and I’m a big believer in honoring winter’s call to slow down, curl up, rest. I love your idea of photographing things at rest and pondering how long anything really stays still. Some of this is going to find its way into a poem or two at my desk.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a pleasure it is to read your comment, Kathleen. We’ve all gotten too far away from following the seasons (let alone the lunar cycles!) so I agree, it’s healthy to take a cue from what’s going on outside. I look forward to seeing how you write about rest. BTW, I decided to do without a caption or text about the last photo but that’s my only son and one of his twin boys, born in August. πŸ™‚
      Thanks again for your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Lynn, I’ve enjoyed your poetic writing as much as the lovely photos.
    This country is kind of known for bone-deep restlessness, perhaps even a culture saturated with discontent, or at least constant motion. Your essay is a nice, calming celebration of restfulness.
    That old truck is an amazing sight and has weathered to a beautiful color, almost like verdigris.
    That “bristly tunicate or hairy sea squirt” in #6 resembles the pink/yellow “woolly oak leaf galls” from those tiny wasps, that I see on oak leaves pretty often, I guess they don’t bother the tree much and the wasps don’t bother us either. Is the final picture of son/grandchild?

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a good point about America’s restlessness. I was surprised when traveling in Europe how content many people were to spend their lives in one relatively small area, especially when it’s so easy to travel a short distance and be immersed in a very different culture.
      Moss thriving on metal surfaces was one of the surprises of the Pacific Northwest. πŸ˜‰ Interesting observation about the galls – yes, I’ve seen galls like that. The little Sea squirt was soft, of course. You’re right, that’s my son and one of his twin boys, born in August. πŸ™‚

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  9. All the images are magnificent, balanced, perfect and I don’t know which one I would choose as
    the best. However, emotionally the one that moved me the most is the last one, maybe because in a few months I’ll have a new grandson and I’m quite sensitive about that. Furthermore, I believe that this image holds the essence of the post.
    Interestingly, it is the only one that is not presented/justified in the text. Will it be your son and grandson? Sometimes it is not necessary to say everything, just the emotion of the look…
    It’s a beautiful photo!
    I can only say that I loved the text, the observations and wanderings around the title that names the post. Perfect!

    Liked by 1 person

    • πŸ™‚ You’re right, Dulce, that’s my son, and one of his twin boys who were born in August. I decided the photo didn’t need any text. I think it sums up the post, too, and definitely, for me, it brings up the strongest emotions! πŸ˜‰
      Thank you so much for your warm, thoughtful comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Wonderful work, Lynn! #2 is my favorite. It’s delicate kind of frame that seems best appreciated in a larger size, I think. I love the stippled patches of green, of the kelp. the truck picture is awesome, I love that. And of course, as a father iv’e got a soft spot in my heart for your very last picture. Twins, wow!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. It’s nice to hear your thoughts about the second photo. That was probably at Bowman Bay (Deception Pass), my favorite place to be near the water. That truck was parked on Rt. 203 just south of Duvall for years. I don’t know if it’s still there. Your comment about the last photo is much appreciated. It’s wonderful to see them, in person and every time I get another picture. πŸ™‚

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  11. While it’s kind of neat to see bull kelp on the beach, I’d rather see it in the water – the urchins are a bit out of control and sometimes clear the kelp forests. Like way too many eager beavers.

    I really like the mossy truck shot, with a bit of glow attached. The pensive silhouette is nice too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know there have been problems with sea urchins and kelp in CA. I’m not sure if it’s a problem here. From what I could see this year from land, the kelp neds looked really, really good. Obviously, I don’t have decades of experience but the beds looked thicker this year than the last three. I don’t think the kelp that’s been washing up is necessarily coming loose because it’s being eaten – it’s naturally an annual cycle so some should wash up at this time of year. I found this –
      https://kelp-canopy-vital-sign-for-puget-sound-wadnr.hub.arcgis.com/
      It’s good to know that people are working together on this. Also –
      https://crosscut.com/environment/2022/03/shrinking-wa-kelp-and-eelgrass-beds-draw-legislative-attention
      That link tells me it IS a problem here. Thanks for pushing me to look into this.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, it is a problem here. Yet the beds may still be thicker this year – hopefully it’s because the overpopulation of urchins from prior years has reduced due to starvation.

        At the same time, one of your pictures showed a holdfast on a barnacle – not the most stable foundation. So yeah, some of it does come loose, especially after it’s older and the storms roll in.

        Don’t know if you’ve heard about it, but there’s also been an issue with sea star wasting disease. As some of the sea stars were predators for urchins that probably contributed to the problem. The wasting disease wasn’t as bad this year, but it’s still around, and it’s still a bit of a mystery as to what’s behind it.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, I’ve read about the problems with wasting disease and also heard that things were a little better this year. You know, when I picked up that barnacle & holdfast I didn’t even recognize the holdfast for what it was. πŸ™‚ It took me a while. I suspect it’s natural for a fair amount of kelp stalks to be torn away during winter storms. The storm that produced the “stuff” in this post was a severe windstorm in early November (I don’t know if Portland got that one, too). There were massive piles of kelp onshore the next day with creatures I’d never seen, like the Sea squirt, trapped in them. From what I’ve read, Bull kelp doesn’t usually live longer than a year. Spores sprout on the ocean floor in winter and grow toward the surface in spring. I’ve read that some Bull kelp stalks & floats persist over the winter, then die the following fall.
          Sometimes I feel like a blind person trying to describe something they can’t see – plants on land are so much easier to understand! πŸ˜‰

          Liked by 1 person

  12. Your natural sealifes are eyecatchers, but the resting and sleeping people are the hit for me here !! Above all those from above and the last with father and child. I’m very thankful that sleep and rest exist and are so necessary and self-evident that they are only taken away in torture. Hoping you are fine. Cheerio, Petra

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Petra, it’s good to hear from you. What an interesting point you made about limitations on sleep and rest being used in torture. Not a pretty thought but you’re right, it does show us how important rest is. We know that the day after a bad night when we couldn’t sleep, too. These days our windows are closed because it’s cold and I find I sleep better. πŸ™‚ Thanks for your thoughts and have a good weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

    • That seems to be the case, Jackson. Something about this medium suits me – prints just don’t appeal as much, even though I love the physicality of them. Thanks so much for your thoughts – and the maple leaves, it’s cool that they appeal to you. Enjoy the weekend!

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  13. Beautiful pictures and excellent writing. I feel a kind of Zen here or better your words are relaxing πŸ™‚ I often wonder about the leaves too. The fur of the seal is funny. It looks so strange between the leaves. I love # 5, 6 and 7 here and of course the photo from your son and grandchild is so lovely! No words needed πŸ™‚ Have a nice weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is nice to read, thank you. The day that I found the little things in the tangles of kelp came after a very intense windstorm. It was still windy but I was so glad I went there. I had never seen anything like those piles of wet kelp with odd bits of marine life caught in them. There was a piece of plastic pipe that must have broken off something in the water. It was covered with different anemones and other things, all growing on it and still soft in their bodies. It was cool! I’m glad you enjoyed the post – and the photo of Colby & Hudson. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  14. This is a thought provoking post, Lynn. Such variety in the photographs but each centered on the concept of rest. What a gift! I’m happy to see the wash lines in #3; I had seen those many times but really took a closer look at Lake Erie last summer. I think I read in one of your replies above that the circular lines in the image on the right were from raindrops?…wonderful! ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your comment is a gift, thank you. Maybe those lines tend to be characteristic of the place where you find them. The angle of the beach, the strength of the waves, etc. would make them different. Just thinking out loud. And yes, I love seeing evidence of raindrops on beach sand. It was really cool to see them scattered on top of those wave marks. We had a thin coating of snow the other night and apparently it warmed enough toward the end of the precipitation to turn to rain. The snow was pock-marked with circles from the rain. It had a slightly icy crust. So many kinds of snow, so many traces of weather….

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Wonderful post and theme Lynn! I always love seeing what you find washed up on the beach. I suppose there is some anticipation about what surprises you might discover as you venture out! The set showing the texture of the sand makes a really cool monochrome triptych. Of course I love that old moss covered truck … I would have had a great time shooting it. The mannequin is really fun and yes, he does seem to be dreaming about the future! I enjoyed reading your post and seeing these images. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, you’d have a great time with that old truck. That’s a pretty old photo and I’m not even sure the truck is still there but if it is, we can assume the moss is even more luxurious. πŸ™‚ How cool that you singled out the mannequin. That one’s even older, from NY days, seen at a public garden. I enjoy your comments, Denise, thank you.

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  16. People’s deep longing to find rest can find fulfillment through your pictures, at least for the time of viewing and possibly for a little while longer.
    In the last four pictures we see the rest directly, in the others you symbolize it. For sea lovers it is clear that the short period between the tides brings such calm in which the sea presents a small collection of its treasures before packing it up and taking them away again.Β  Every time.

    The fact that the sea also leaves us written messages during this time means a special magic to me and at the same time the opportunity to empathize for a moment with people who cannot read.Β  For people like me, whose world consists so largely of the written and the printed, this is an almost impossible notion.

    Thank you for this pacifying post with so many thoughts in text and pictures, dear Lynn

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like to expand definitions and boundaries so it’s true that the photos without people are more symbolic of rest and not as obvious. If they were in another context they could mean something else.
      I love the way you describe the action of the tides – presenting treasures and then packing them up and taking them away – that’s brilliant! You gave me another “I-wish-I-had-thought-of-that moment”. And what you say about messages from the sea that go beyond writing is very interesting. With some messages I guess we can imagine that each person has a different interpretation – each reads the message in her own way and makes her own meaning with it. Tide poetry?
      It’s good to “talk” with you, liebe Ule. πŸ™‚

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  17. Such beautiful moments you’ve seen and made into photographs, Lynn. The luck and skill in finding these small miraculous nature moments is inspiring. I especially enjoyed your people shots, the museum is terrific, the street musician and the fisherman are all wonderful moments. And your final photo brought a tear to my eye. πŸ™‚ Happy for you!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Pingback: STATES of BEING: Entering « bluebrightly

  19. Lovely selection of collections! I’m always amazed by the things that fall from our trees or arrive from who-knows-where in our backyard. It’s especially fun after a windstorm to notice the macro and the miniature levels of natural collages that formed from objects that fell and those that arrived swept by the wind. For such a tiny piece of land, the dramatic variety of changes is amazing due to the intense winds and river flowing through it.
    Bays and oceans are even more interesting since I often wonder how far the objects and creatures have traveled.

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    • I’m happy to hear that you’ve been looking at things that get caught up, too – is it possible that this phenomenon is more common here than in other landscapes, I wonder? E.g. it wouldn’t happen as much in deserts but that’s obvious. Something to ponder….you mention the winds and water producing that effect where you live but I’m wondering about it on a PNW scale.
      And I like the idea of natural collages – that’s great, why didn’t I think of that? πŸ˜‰
      A thought-provoking comment, Sheri, thank you!!

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      • Glad I gave you some new perspectives to ponder. I like thinking about it on a PNW scale – I hadn’t thought of that one. πŸ˜€ And I had to reply because I do think this happens in deserts, it’s possible more fleeting or much slower due to the frequent winds and less frequent water. But anywhere there’s sand things shift and catch. It may take looking more closely to see it there. Or perhaps we need to think bigger and remember the incredible sculptures in the rock formations in deserts. There are likely things that catch in them, and the changes over time are very apparent.

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        • Right, I don’t think it never happens in deserts but maybe not as often. I have a photo of leaves caught in the cracks of dried mud in Arizona. An instance I really like around here is when eelgrass gets wrapped around low-hanging branches at a high tide, then flaps in the wind when the tide goes out. I need to make another “Caught” post. πŸ™‚

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