The Snail Trail, part 5

As I’ve been detailing in recent posts, I’ve become preoccupied with a photo of a complicated snail trail.

After various failed efforts to follow or reproduce the sea snail’s route, I tried to follow it in spirit. That is, I attempted to stop steering and instead make turns without forethought, as they present themselves.

It’s not my first round at this particular rodeo. With and without snail trails, my life proceeds most gloriously when I am able to live it without trying to steer and plan. My days become deeper and richer. My fiction writing brings wonderful surprises.

And yet it takes daily/hourly/momently effort to put steering and planning on pause.

And so, the Snail Trail Project has become another opportunity to practice wandering. I began to dabble with shapes in the trail and have wound up spending weeks decorating those shapes. Early on, in the colorized trail shapes I saw an impala, prancing. In a recent dream, impalas played an important role, so I colored the snail trail to emphasize the impala:

It takes a certain squint to see the impala, kicking up one heel.


The Snail Trail, part 4

As I mentioned in my most recent posts, I’ve become preoccupied with a photo of a complicated snail trail.

After I abandoned my effort to recreate the trail, I imagined walking it as the snail had. Twist, turn, twist, return, reverse, retwist.

I thought, ‘Snail is patient. It takes a lot of patience to move like that.’

I thought about it some more. And at some point I started to feel like Pooh with one of his conundrums.

I decided. The snail trail is a great symbol of Patience.

The snail trail is an equally great symbol of Impatience.

The Snail Trail, part 3

As I mentioned in my most recent posts, I’ve become preoccupied with a photo of a complicated snail trail.

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).

Hooo boy.

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.

As if that were up to me.

The Snail Trail, part 1

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.

Low Tide Magic

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:

I could be friends with that one in the middle.

Look, a tar bat!

These craters formed when water dropped from the rock above:

Dream Art

My dreams, of late, feature voices that deliver snippets of verse or wisdom.

In one recent dream, I heard, “All the theres are here.”

In another, I heard, “I’m here. I remember. Tell me other things that matter.”

the theres


All Free, A Few More Days

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…