Sarrah, Nissa and I explored the roads, trails, miles of beach and rolling dunes. We never tired of these journeys and the ever-changing collection of treasure discovered along the way. The ocean constantly changes the beach and gives back an endless amount of debris from the land. Some storms take away sand, others bring it back and then some. Those that come in the winter pile up logs and other assorted remains washed down streams.
Sadly, not all is wonderful. The ocean is always giving back the unwanted gifts of the human experience, garbage. I began to collect these ugly bits of proof and pieces of disrespect. The more we looked, the more we found and brought back with us. I began to take ownership, understanding what is called “stewardship” and feel like this was ‘our beach’ and wondered why so many other people were just walking past these ‘treasures’, do they not see the garbage? All of this reminds of when I was a kid in the early seventies, there was a television commercial with a stoic, once proud American Indian, standing with a tear in his eye watching garbage come to shore in the waves. Perhaps time has come to replay it for those who missed the message and do not recall pride. Or maybe a newer version to make us more aware of the long term affects of mishandling things like plastic. Regardless of the cause of garbage turned into litter in the wild, it belongs to all of us and it is not ok for me to walk on by.
This drawing was a gift to me, from my daughter Heather, of a gift to me, from Sarrah.
Walking through the streets of my forty-plus year old working-class suburban neighborhood with Sarrah, where I had lived for around eight years, I started to notice and discover things. The little stuff missed when driving on autopilot, getting from home to wherever and back, even those details that I had somehow missed when just out for a leisurely drive.
Like watching the ‘big hair’ artist Bob Ross on television go at it with a canvas; the brilliant colors, smells and sounds all quickly join in to complete the picture. With repetition and varied routes we viewed houses, landscapes, people and how they live in different kinds of light. Sarrah’s frequent pausing to bark at shut-in dogs, sniff shrubs and investigate everything worthy created endless opportunities to look around. As new discoveries were added into the mix, smaller details were exposed. A daily dose gives an observer some sense of goings on; projects, maintenance and all changes are easily noticed. I enjoy seeing pride of possession, on any scale.
I have always noticed the houses with architectural flair, typically those older ones with added attention to detail, built when priorities were different. By walking I discovered even more. In particular, landscaping; how it is designed, maintained and evolves has always been an eye catcher for me, but actually walking right beside it and in some cases through it via public sidewalks, paints the picture more clearly. I like to see timeless balance within a property, an organic harmony between the land and its buildings. This varied equilibrium is hard to achieve and almost impossible for me to describe with a handful of words, but I think that you know it when you see it.
Down the street four houses resides an old decrepit evergreen tree on the corner. This poor tree is in a crappy location and does its part to let everyone know that it is unhappy. It grew crooked on this sloped lot and has always looked sickly. To show its unhappiness it constantly drops needles and cones to plug the run-off street drain underneath so that when we get significant rainfall, the street floods. Sarrah only noticed one thing… the Cones! She loved the scratching hollow noise that they made as they skipped across the blacktop, when I kicked them. She would excitedly attack, catch and carry the cone of the day along with us (sometimes two at a time). Eventually she would drop it indiscriminately; some were deposited as little as ten feet away, most others much farther, the furthest made the whole mile plus round trip. She should receive honorable mention on Arbor Day, for if ten percent of her randomly relocated cones yielded a tree; she planted around four hundred along Marine View Drive.