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.

Lessons, Re-Learned

For me, this is a time of imminent loss. One of my longest-standing, dearest friends is fighting for his life. Now, he is the proverbial tough old bird and if anyone can beat these particular odds it will be this guy. But for the foreseeable future, the next text or phone call could bring terrible news.

As I scrap this or that “important” plan in order to spend a few minutes clunking around his hospital room or assisting his family in some small way, I’m re-reminded of the few things that matter to me.

1) My loved ones.

2) Writing.

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3) Getting my head into the present tense so I can appreciate what is happening while it is happening. Such as walking on the bluffs by the ocean and… catching paragliders taking their turns at launch… or witnessing brilliantly graceful pelicans come in for their awkward landings, right next to harbor seals who lounge unperturbed:

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And, oh yeah,
4) My health.

When I was younger, I knew these things, too. But when I was younger, I more often lost touch with truth.

I’m so grateful I got to get old and I look forward to figuring more stuff out. While remembering the stuff I already figured out.

(The WP Weekly Photo Challenge was “lines”.)