Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Driftwood: The Lucky Ones

We wandered through the sand along the shore picking through and marveling at the pieces of sculpted wood, scattered and half-buried at the foot of the dunes like weary travelers that finally found their beach.  Some were whole trees, others just pieces, all brought there by waves, shaped by water and time, each representing an unknowable story. Someplace, at sometime before, these stood as living trees, or parts of one.

How far they’d come and how long it took, we’ll never know. Even what they were was often beyond our ability to know. An old oak, or a young maple? A root, or a limb? We marveled and imagined, nonetheless.

I’d never thought terribly much about driftwood before, until a recent trip to the white sand beach that marks the eastern edge of the Great Lakes and serves as a repository of journeys untold and final resting place for an entire watershed of wood. Our family has a camp not far from the beach, and we take walks up its shore a few times a summer.

Sure, I’ve picked up many interesting pieces to examine on past walks, or found nature’s attempt at a perfect walking and used it for the duration of one journey.  But I’d never thought about the story of each one before.
This time, I did. It may be because I empathize at times with the drifting part of the tale. But I took time with each piece of sculpted wood we held to consider its whole story.
It struck me that only a few of the many trees and branches are preserved and reborn as driftwood. Most simply go back to the earth, or become fuel for fire -- which these may yet be. But only the lucky ones get to become driftwood, if only for a spell.

Each tree could have just fallen on land and rotted and become the soil for the next generation. But something brought them to the water – either proximity, or a storm, or a flood, or a river.  There they floated and tumbled for an unknown duration, became hardened and smooth, and found their way to a deserted beach, preserved by happenstance to live beyond their life, to be reborn as nature's own version of artwork.
As we walked, we made a game of it, and looked for ones that could be transformed again, this time in our minds, to other living things, like birds and beasts and the fish they surely knew along their journey. 

Here’s what we found: 

Parasaurolophus. It's a dinosaur.

The Loon

Snapping Turtle/Snake/Basilisk

Snarling Bear
And here, to my mind, the luckiest of all:

One piece of wood that transforms as you turn it in your hand,
into a bear, a porpoise, an anteater, a wolf, and a cardinal.
This magical piece of driftwood also could be a
shark's tooth or a sailboat.
I kept this one.  

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1 comment:

Larry said...

Some great finds there. It seems these walks bring out some interesting thoughts.