After I traced the trail, I attempted to recreate the path that the snail took. I used my puzzle-solving skills. I used scientific strategies for interpreting geologic history, such as the principle of cross-cutting formations (if a line is on top it is “younger” – it happened more recently than the line below).
I started at one end and moved forward.
I started at the other end and moved backward.
I messed with the image contrast and shadows.
I got my other glasses.
Every time I thought I figured out one small piece of the middle maelstrom, my next choice would contradict the previous.
Only on the simplest loops was I able to (maybe, mostly) determine the snail’s path.
I stopped trying when self-combustion became imminent.
I decided the snail’s path would remain a mystery.
For a long time I ignored the snails at my local tide pool. Snails. Meh.
Then one day I happened past a snail that had just completed what might have been eternity symbol. After that I was discovering a fabulous new design every few paces.
Since that revelatory day, I’ve made a point of seeking out the artworks that snails have etched in the sand. Like Buddhist sand mandalas, these will be gone with the next high tide. Recently I found this lacy meanderer:
and this delicate brushwork on rock:
Sometimes I spot an artist at work. More often I find them gathered, perhaps at a cafe:
Of all the snail trails I’ve found to date, this one has most captivated me:
Most of this extensive design came from a single snail during one low tide. I’m pretty sure the artist is the dark blob in the lower right. It lacks a snail silhouette because it has seaplants on its shell.
(This is a common tidepool occurrence. Hold still for long and somebody will grow on you:
But I digress.)
I have spent weeks with the extensive snail trail. I have contemplated it, colored it, admired it. Over the next several posts I’ll share some of what I’ve learned by traveling this snail trail.
First, I cropped the trail a bit. (Not sure this made it any less complicated. Perhaps as I advance with my trail work, I will return to the full trail.) Next, I became familiar with the biggest twists and turns:
After that… well, more soon… er… Lots more soon.
As it turns out, fascination, preoccupation, obsession are all parts of the same coin.
It’s that time of year in southern California. Extra high tides (the so-called king tides) alternate with spectacularly low tides (anarchist tides?), revealing tide pools teeming with fabulous occupants. I’ve never seen starfish out in the world, before!
The colors. The patterns. Everywhere.
A person can stare a long time waiting to see one of these gals move. Here’s evidence that movement recently occurred!:
These mussels have worked around a band of white plastic:
Amazing to see anemones with soft sticky outsides that are sludge-free. (Perhaps these critters live in deeper water than the sludged ones?) (I’m making that up.):
Anybody know what these translucent donut creatures are called?
I was not alone enjoying the tide pools:
Look, a tar bat!
These craters formed when water dropped from the rock above:
All my books are free in digital formats during the Smashwords summer sale, which continues until the end of July. Click the link to get to my profile page on Smashwords; from there you can see all my books. Quite a few of them by now! I don’t write a lot every day but I keep writing and it adds up over time.
The sale started July 1. I knew there was something I forgot to tell you…