i guess i could say that i would find this thistle beautiful at home, in the land of deep summer greens and lush forests mixed of hardwoods and evergreens. but i would have to work at it a little bit. i’d have to take a minute to pick it out from all the saturated color that surrounded it, and reset my aesthetic vision to appreciate the faded yellow suns atop the drooping, weaponish, sage green leaves. but here in the languedoc i see them all the time along the side of the trail and they leap out from the muted background and dusty schist, and cry out their obvious beauty.
i guess it would be a little embarrassing if i ever had to tally how much time i spend looking at the ocean, when i’m at the beach, versus how much time i spend bent over, looking about eighteen inches ahead of my two big toes. actually the scenery at my feet is slightly more varied. and i can’t bring the surf home and place it on a white background. so no apologies.
beach combing bits
3 mediterranean beaches, languedoc, france
remember when fractals were about to explain everything? if not, you didn’t go to school in the 1980s. i haven’t thought about them for years, but i looked at this forking palm leaflet, and suddenly imagined it branching in a self-similar and infinitely regressive blossoming. then i feathered my hair back on both sides, drank a bartles and jaymes wine cooler, and pulled on my moon boots to walk home through the snow to the split level owned my divorced dad who voted for reagan twice. good times.
these are strange times. normally i would look at these shells and think about the evolutionary forces that made such an awkward shape so common: “how could there be 313 varieties of auger snails in the world, when they all look top heavy and awkward?” but, in fact, my first thought was about this year’s american election of all things. where the choice is between perhaps the most exaggeratedly male candidate, and the first female candidate, in history. between masculine power and feminine power. between anger and craft. between the urge to dominate, and the urge to integrate. between towers and villages. between the phallus and the womb. between, historically speaking, and to put it delicately, the augerer, and the augered.
auger shells (terebridae)
la plage de l’espiguette, camargue, france
this little lantern was the closest we came to pumpkin carving this halloween. in fact we had forgotten all about halloween until a group of village kids rang our doorbell last night, and sang for candy. because we hadn’t bought any candy to hand out, we looked at each other, and, like good americans representing a grand tradition in our home country, hid in an upstairs bedroom until the kids moved on to the next house.
physalis alkekengi (chinese lantern)