Monday, May 25, 2009

Back and Up

I'm back and rested from my seashore shenannigans. I camped overnight at Padre Island National Seashore, enjoying good weather and more peace and quiet than I usually get from my neighbors at home--even if the dingleberries in the next campsite over did keep honking their horn around 11 pm. At least they stopped by midnight. This was the very first time in my 50 years of life that I went somewhere completely by myself for vacation. I travelled maybe too light, but it was OK, since it meant less to deal with both at the destination and coming home. I was very glad, again, for having bought an easy-to-pitch tent. Not even the evening beach winds could keep me from being able to set it up by myself. However, next time, if it is for just one night, I will probably just sleep in my car and if it is for more than one night, I will bring a lounger, because I can't even pretend to sleep flat on my back for more than an hour.

I trundled out to the water's edge the night I arrived. No one else was out there at all. Once I turned off my lantern, there was no artificial light. I figured I would get to see the moonlight and stars reflect off the sea foam. What I did not expect was to see the shoreline flash softly in blue and purple. I bent to examine the source, turning my lantern back on. It was the nasty seaweed that litters the beach! By day, it is quite ugly. But at night, the plankton that live in it biolumenesce up a storm! All these years I have gone to the beach, and I had never seen this. If you go, make sure to go to the shoreline when there is no one else there with lights or fires so you can see for yourself. Other beaches may have other colors, depending on the plankton. It's really wonderful.

One of my main reasons for going down was to get myself into regular sketching again after, lo, these many years. I took a small sketch book and some pencils and charcoal, and spent the morning after camping drawing whatever interested me.

Earlier today, I finally broke out my pastels to add some color to the drawings and have managed to scan in the first three of them. Let's see how they turned out, shall we?

This first one was done at daybreak. When I got down to the beach, the sun was just coming up. By the time I got the rough proportions of beach, sea, and sky pencilled in, the sun was off to my left, high enough in the sky that I couldn't see anything but blinding white light on that side, but not high enough to bring out color. For the most part, the colors of sand, water, and sky were indistinguishable. But still, there was plenty of light for the plovers and pipers to find their prey in the tide. The color I've added in is actually more than what you would have seen with the naked eye, but it's pretty close.

By the time I finished with that, the sun had risen enough to bring out the yellows and roses along the beach. This small shell was left in a tiny crevice made by the receding tide. I thought the shadows and colors around it were interesting, even if I didn't quite capture what I saw.

When I went back to the camp site, I looked over the dunes and saw this magnificent gray heron observing the hustle and bustle of the campers. He was quite large, maybe three feet tall standing at the crest of the dune. I should probably have drawn him with his neck extended, but this is the pose he settled into, so I went with it. I didn't want to get too close for fear of spooking him, but the only time he showed any sign of perhaps flying away was when a karakara swooped in nearby. But a three foot tall heron is a match for a karakara, so they quickly ignored each other. The heron would move, later, as I'll show you tomorrow.


Elizabeth McClung said...

Thanks for showing the pictures, I like the narration with the picture though the one of the shell and the one of the ocean at dawn tell their own story - at least to me, I could be shown them and like a good book, it would stir memories in my mind of beaches at the different times of day, and what it looks like when a shell is overrun with water, then the transitory prints of a sand piper.

Thanks, it was very enjoyable. I like the striation on the shell as well.

FridaWrites said...

I love the sketches too. I could gaze and gaze at the heron in particular. I'm glad you had a good trip! Do you have an inflatable air mattress? We had one (leak) that's made by one of the good mattress companies that's rapidly self inflating and I'm surprised I've been able to sleep so well on it. Other brands put me in immediate pain, even ten years ago.

yanub said...

Beth and Frida, thank you so much for your encouraging comments. I have enjoyed doing this, and hope to do more in the future.

Lisa Moon said...

Wow, you've got another talent there! And I concur with Frida: I was especially drawn to the heron, as well. An incredible effort!

In fact, I'd seriously want to purchase your work for my home if you were a seller of your art!


yanub said...

Oh, Lisa, I am embarrassed by your lavish compliments! And encouraged to practice more. I have a meme to work on today, so I must get busy. I will try to show it later, though Blogger is giving me fits today.