Sand artists

The beach today

On such a wide, open beach it is not hard to feel our ‘smallness’ in relation to sea and sky, but looking down, the sand shows us that we are not the smallest. There are some very tiny artists creating wonderful patterns right under our feet.

Did you know?

Although the wide expanses of sand may look empty, they are in fact teeming with life. Tiny creatures are making transient homes for themselves just below the wet sand and according to the Natural Museum of Natural History, not even tropical rainforests match this diversity. There are a large range of microbes, sand hoppers, sand crabs, lug worms, beetles and clams, to name a few. Most of them cannot swim so when the tide comes back in, they cling on tightly to small sand granules with their tails, claws or bodies.

When the tide goes out depositing the tiny creatures along the beach they scurry around in search of food, following the tide up and down the beach. Beach isopods (Roly Polies), beetles and beach-hoppers burrow at the high tide mark under the older dried wrack (seaweed) where they can feed. Sand crabs and clams burrow below the saturated sand sieving for food through their antennae.

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Tiny artist

Reflective Moment

This pattern above made me smile. Who made it? How far did it seem to them to travel (The pattern is no bigger than my size 5 feet)? And where were they going? What was the purpose of their journey? I could relate to this tiny creature so easily – going round and round in circles, expending lots of energy, determined to achieve, to plough on regardless…Even in my hopeless stumbling do I create a such pretty pattern like this; leave a trail of impacts and repercussion from which others benefit?

Do we judge ourselves too harshly? We, who will never understand the full impact of our lives on others. If we just go forwards with kindness, accept each day and do our best, that is enough. Rest in that thought.

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The Three Legged Dog

I liked this pattern! Perhaps made by a winkle or another such mollusc (where has it gone?). The pattern reminded me of a three-legged dog. Although the sensible part of me knows it is just a random wandering trail the brain cannot resist making sense of patterns, can it? It is a strategy we employ to make sense of the world around us; developing schema to reuse in new situations so we learn and thrive. But we cannot switch it off very easily: We cannot watch clouds without conjuring up lions or clowns. We cannot gaze up at the stars without joining them up into constellations. Even though we are so tiny in the cosmos we cannot help but throw our humancentric perspective over everything, claiming understanding of all things (or at least believing Google can). I think that is why it is important to sometimes reappraise this relationship. Let’s every now and then feel part of everything in a non-human way – no agenda, no desire to change, dominate or control, no wishes for the future, nothing else other than to hear the wind, watch the waves and trace the journey of a mysterious creature on his road to nowhere and know that that is okay, it is enough.

Before we leave the subject of pattern though, have a look at this one; isn’t it beautiful? It is as if the sea has taken a selfie! A picture memory of how the waves advanced and retreated along the beach captured in the sand.

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A Sea Selfie

Back to the waves in real time: They are more of a gentle hiss and whisper today as they gently reach up the beach: Memories of more cheerful weather. The wind is louder. Imagine standing looking out to the horizon, breathing deeply, and standing still as the waves reach all the way up to your toes: Let go and be.

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Imagine the crunch of sand under your feet, feel the mild but rather strong wind tug your hair and obscure the sound of waves with its own constant thrum. Look out to sea, beyond the ripples of reaching tide, across the rim of whispering surf to the pale egg blue sky. Raise your eyes from the horizon, up towards the deeper blue that sweeps back overhead to envelope you into the sea-sky hug. Feel tiny, but part of a whole. Feel small but an integral part of a big picture.

Breathe deeply, filling your lungs drawing air from outside, inside. In the next breath, expel all the stress and worries of your day and let them melt away across the sea. Breathe back in with self-love and send the energy to where you need it most – self hug, aching back or, stiff shoulders. Breathe out the morning and place your plans for the afternoon in the context of the ‘bigger picture’ and you ‘the artist’.

The sound of the sea today

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