The Ice Siren 3.28.2021

Beginning a new art notebook is much like those new school composition notebooks we bought at the beginning of a new semester. They were our passport to a new class, a new way of seeing our world from a different vantage point. Sometimes we may have drawn small sketches in the corners, I know I did. When the semester wound up it was those little sketches that reminded me of the people I sat next to in a class or the teacher that taught it.

Finishing an art notebook is much like reading a novel; the people we were when we began are not necessarily the people we are at the last page. The last page of some novels is the ‘and they lived happily ever after’ moment, in others like The Hobbit, it is the bridge for an even bigger adventure story. The Ice Siren is a watercolor in the next to the last page of a small notebook I have taken with me to Las Vegas, Nevada, San Francisco, California, and London, England.

As the pandemic stretched longer and further all of my supplies were held as vital resources. A few years ago I would have flipped through it and smiled at some of the sketches but now with everything having to be ordered, I count every single page. One day we may look back on this time and feel relieved that we are living a normal life, finally but I know I will look at my art notebooks as a treasure trove of ideas and images that I was afforded the luxury of time to work and rework ideas and images.

While social distancing and confinement has limited me to my own supplies, my own library of art books, it has also given me space and time to think about the paintings I want to paint in acrylic and the true commitment of time; oil. I have had days and days to explore soft pastels, oil pastels as well, and yet it is watercolors I use to explore a concept first. The other mediums provide their own light in the color white, while watercolors achieve their luminance by the sheen of white paper that lies like a ghost underneath the translucent color.

I still feel when I began to sketch an image to paint, like a child learning cursive in Mrs. Jackson’s second grade class, in that every nuance of a shape is as important to telling this visual story as the way we cross our T’s or how wide we swing our capitol G’s. I still believe every chance to learn is an opportunity to improve and that attitude has sustained my creativity for this unusual time of imposed isolation.

I look forward to receiving the vaccine that will enable me to visit art museums, art supply stores, art galleries and the community of people we have been missing because a global pandemic shut us away from society. I look forward to dining out and to listening to live music. I look forward to seeing friends and family we haven’t seen for more than a year. I look forward because when you close one chapter of life, much like a notebook, it’s time to begin a new one. 

How wild are you?

Once while walking, I peeked into the greenwood;

I fear I saw what is greatly misunderstood.

For there were things both wild and free,

And these creatures had no thought of me.

They each pursued life with unharnessed vitality,

Each beast imbued with its own specialty.

I questioned my presence in this world so wild,

What is progress but turning the fine into the defiled.

We humans each have a choice in how we choose our lives,

The wilds have but one choice; it is us they must survive.

 I fear it has troubled me

Ever since.

In years passed we have had many chances to take a behind the scenes tour of the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife animal rescue facility on Sanibel Island, Florida. It is a rewarding occasion to see how dedicated professionals and volunteers care for injured wild animals with the goal of releasing them back into their native habitat.

2020 has been a very busy year for C.R.O.W. as more than 5,600 animals were in need of care for injuries sustained many times due to human carelessness. I look forward to having the vaccine that will help our lives to resume and because when we planned to live on Sanibel Island contributing and volunteering at our favorite animal rescue was a priority.

We can all help in little ways from avoiding collisions with wildlife while driving instead of looking at our cellular phones, to aiding a box turtle to cross a road to reach its nesting grounds when spring does return to the north.

A healthy wildlife population is a barometer to the compassion of humans and the environment. While red tide (Karenia brevis) has been around for centuries, habitat loss has increased the urgency for some species of animals to find places to feed. Karenia brevis can affect the central nervous system and in humans it may cause dizziness, muscular aches; in animals it can be far more disastrous resulting in seizures and tremors which is why wild life rescue is all the more imperative. 

Covid-19 has stretched our global economy to the very limit threatening crucial charity work that is essential to survival whether a food pantry for humans or a wildlife hospital.  We may easily contribute to help others and a donation to a favorite charity is always the right color and generous is always the right size. I love my birthday cards when I open them and I read: A donation has been made in your honor to Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife on SanibelIsland, Florida. I know that is a gift really worthy of giving.

Sanibel is renowned for its protected lands and the wildlife preserves. Wild happens every day here and even from our lanai while reading a book I can watch turtles, tortoise, bobcats, osprey, hummingbirds, and listen to the young coyotes while they yodel for their dinner. Paradise for us isn’t about a grand house or a motorboat, no paradise is a place where technology takes a backseat.

Lives in Waiting…1.28.2021

Eleven full moons since we all heard the dire need to self-isolate, lockdown society in hopes that separating from each other will slow the spread of Covid-19. We have not heeded the scientists and pleas of healthcare workers to the devastating losses of more than 4000 deaths a day in the United States. I think back to the terrible day of September 11, 2001 and how people wanted to show their patriotism by helping with contributions and attaching an American flag to their motor vehicles.

Financial contributions are nearly always beneficial; I do not really see how waving a flag helps. Anybody can wave a flag, anybody. It takes sterner stuff to quote William Shakespeare to go Once more into the breach, day after day, week after week, month after month. Healthcare workers are fighting the pandemic every single day and risking their lives to keep others on the way to recovery. If we haven’t woken to the fact that we’re fighting a war against a virus then fiddling away our lives tracking down conspiracy theories will not save Americans, but wearing a mask will.

I am of a certain generation that had vaccinations for polio, small pox, mumps, and measles and with that went a sense of patriotism that we were putting an end to the spread of diseases. I cannot fathom someone not having a tetanus shot to potentially save their life from lockjaw for fear of a chip being administered to monitor behavior.  Americans already have a handy tracking device to monitor their actions and whereabouts it’s called a cellular phone.

I am, like about seven billion other people waiting for some type of normalcy to resume. If tetanus or rabies could be spread as easily as Covid-19 I cannot imagine a resistance to immunization. People, I would like to believe see the sense of closing off new infections. Participation in the betterment of society and the human experience are why people collect for the needy and send food and clothing to areas devastated by natural disasters. Waving a flag seems silly in front of people who have had to make the final arrangements in the wake of a loved one’s death.

I just want to clarify patriotism in my family stretches all the way back to the beginning of America; and they didn’t wave flag, they put on a uniform. Healthcare workers are donning their armor a.k.a. uniforms of their profession far and beyond what they envisioned when they went to medical school. That kind of valor and bravery is far more patriotic than waving a flag, I mean don’t cheerleaders wave flags at sporting events or at parades and auto shows?

If we choose to call ourselves patriots then we should also remember that the Pledge of Allegiance begins with, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands one nation…” We as Americans can’t pick and choose our principles like apples on a tree; we have to accept the entirety like all the thousands of healthcare workers caring for people who refused to wear a mask. The doctors, nurses, emergency technicians are all waiting for us to remember we’re Americans and to be united against the pandemic, not each other.       

The Full Moon, the Boy and the Harp 12.29.2020

What a tumultuous year 2020 has been and as we prepare to close with the last full moon I thought something different would be beneficial. Here is a little story that has absolutely nothing of what this year has come to mean for millions of people around the world. I like to think of it as a delicate slice of pound cake with a dash of whipped cream after the disgrace of a contentious and riotous meal. We all could do with a bit of an emotional dessert after this rollercoaster of a year.

The Full Moon, the Boy and the Harp 12.29.2020

Once upon a time there was on the far western seas there was a boy who lived by his wits with his winning comrades of the sea. Life was simpler as the wheel,bane of the wilds and essential for war and domination, had yet to be conceived.

The wheel lay like a spinning orb in the nocturnal dreams of wild creatures that knew when it rolled the land it would indeed rule the land. The forest and the sea would be at the disposal of those two-legged creatures that until this moment had only achieved fire and sharp sticks to wound and maim.

The boy swam in the seas with seals and avoided the great white sharks that would hunt him the way a fox would stalk a rabbit. The great white shark had an enormous advantage that is until one of those pointy sticks that the humans made fell into the sea and then the boy had power, he had a weapon. He no longer swam in fear but grew bold with the pointy stick daring the shark to come for him and then he would rule the lagoon.

The shark was much older than the boy and he knew this sea-pup was feeling audacious but as the shark also knew that the seals enjoyed swimming with the boy so he would hunt further away, where the seal pups were learning to swim. Much time went by before the boy had cause to use the pointy stick.

The full moon was approaching and the boy swam out to where the sea was brightened by bioluminescence and it was magical. The full moon reflected off the brilliant luminous sea and the stick in the boy’s hand was lost. Down the boy swam to the coral reef where dazzling anemone spawned and an octopus waited for a crab to stroll by.

The boy searched in vain for his pointy stick, but the only thing he found was an odd piece of wood. It was heavy and he tugged and tugged to free it from the octopus’s grasp. The boy found a crab for the octopus and when the octopus captured the crab it released the wooden sphere. The boy seized his prize and swam with it to his lagoon.

The object was laden with water and was heavy to bring up to the beach, but it shone so in the light of the moon the boy worked harder to see what this contrivance was. Strands of metal as thin as a hair were laced from one side to the other, was this a net to catch fish? The boy held it up in the moon light and brushed his fingertips over the metal cords like strings which hummed drops of water that flew away and landed like sparkling gems.

The boy smiled and grew adventurous to see what sounds he could make with this mysterious device. As he strummed his fingernails over the metal cording a song came to his ears over the surface of the water, he sang along and continued to play. He sang with the Sirens all night until the moon set. As the sun’s first rays came like fingers reaching over the horizon they lit on the harp and it became soft in his hands and slipped through his grasp into the sand. Only the drops of water that were diamonds lay on the sand twinkling in the new dawn.

The boy gathered them up and put them in a cockleshell. He would wait and see what these gems would become when the moon was once more full and bioluminescence made the sea radiant with life.

The Full Moon, the Boy and the Harp is an original watercolor painted on Fabriano watercolor paper with Sennelier watercolors. Golden accents achieved with van Gogh metallic watercolors.

All the very, very best for a wonderful New Year!

Gratitude 11.30.2020

November is the next to the last month of the year and what a year 2020 has been! How many times did I reminisce about the terror of Y2K that turned out to be such an overblown fear?  We have all learned a great deal about ourselves, our families and a lot about living safely in the time of Covid-19.

November’s full moon for me is a time to think about what I’m grateful for. While I miss our friends and families, it has been the sea for me that has heralded my spiritual balance. I am awed my grandfather’s baby sister Katie and only girl with five brothers had the courage to make the leap of life on Piney Ridge in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania to eventually retire to Honolulu, Hawaii. With a role model like that in my family, setting the goal to live on Sanibel Island did not seem so far out of reach.

I am grateful Jacques Cousteau brought the wide blue ocean to our living room via television. With those images floating through my dreams, it was easy to be inspired to visit the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California. To walk amongst the rock pools at low tide in Pismo Beach, California and to be amazed at the actual sea anemones I had seen on television and at aquariums. To take lunch alfresco beside the harbor in Morro Bay, California and to watch the sea otters with their meal as we had ours was a spectacular memory.

I am delighted by Gustav Klimt’s vision and his imagination to create his magical golden paintings. I am thankful for the Gustav Klimt paintings that did survive the Second World War. We can all see thousands of artwork today that the Monuments Men risked their lives to preserve for future generations, housed in museums around the world.

I am honored my grandmother taught me the stitches that she embroidered on doilies and pillowcases. I am grateful that while other children were learning the alphabet my mother made sure I knew how to mix watercolors to make new colors and how to hold a paintbrush. I am humbled by my older brother’s skill of metalworking and that he allowed me to observe him at his lathe while he crafted timeless jewelry in sterling silver.

I am grateful my partner in life, my husband Mike appreciated my desire to travel and to see European Art, the blue of the Caribbean Sea, and the big Pacific Ocean and he fulfilled those desires. That he learned to navigate the Paris Metro system with only a background in classic Latin is a testimony to the lengths he will go to see me happy. 

Most of all I am grateful for those moments of joy we shared with our friends and families that we have had to hold on to those memories through this long and deadly pandemic. Because of those good memories we can also have the faith that we will see them again.

My colored pencil drawing Aloha is on 20” x 26” Fabriano Tiziano pastel and charcoal paper made in Italy. Pablo pencils are by Caran d’Ache made in Switzerland.

Quelling Darkness

We lived in Hampton, Virginia until I was four years old and then we moved temporarily to Huntingdon County Pennsylvania. My older brothers had been there before so they were prepared for the mountains bringing twilight early compared with the lowlands of the Tidewater Peninsula. The transition in my young mind was like stepping from golden sunshine near a sparkling sea to the shadows of a cool and mysterious cave sheltered by enormous fir trees. The threat of bear attacks punctuated with a reminder that mountain lions could be hiding in every shadow was a reminder not to be out after dark. In Hampton, enormous predators were sharks and unless you waded too far out at the beach sandspurs were the biggest terror.

Reading Bram Stoker’s epistolary novel Dracula reminded me in the first few pages of Jonathan Harker’s journal what it would be like to travel from the comfortable familiarity of established London to the mountains of remote European villages where language was yet another barrier. Here too was another similarity, for while my parents grew up Huntingdon County their language was a bit different than the Tidewater dialect I was accustomed to from our neighbors and my classmates in Pre-K. I was told I was the one that talked funny.

Old barns had Pennsylvania Dutch Hex symbols painted on their facades and buck antlers hung in rows on the wall of an old smokehouse of the ancestral home of my maternal Grandmother’s family. Her people had been living and farming on Piney Ridge since the early 1800’s, and here too I felt about as old as a six week old kitten in a foreign land.

Reading the novel Dracula magnified the fact that though we have all seen film adaptations of this particular novel over the course of film history beginning in the age of silent films, few of these filmmakers ever troubled to bring out the true heroine of the novel; technology and scientific advancements. Beginning with the Kodak Camera used to photograph Count Dracula’s property in London to convey something of his newest acquisition to the blood transfusions to attempt to save Lucy Westenra from a mysterious wasting disease; technology is the best weapon against their unseen foe. 

Being the only daughter in a family with four sons I was reminded often what a girl can’t do, and yet even in the latter 1800’s Bram Stoker was so generous as to create a modern heroine in Wilhelmina Murray. He allows her, an unmarried woman, to travel un-chaperoned to the distant and mysterious Buda-Pest to collect her fiancé invalid Jonathan Harker who is suffering with brain fever and unable to travel alone. Dracula was published in March of 1897.  Women did not receive the right to vote in England until 1918 and that was with the stipulation that they be over the age of 30 and the owner of land. Mina Murray was none of these.

All the horror associations around the novel Dracula were more inventions of film than the work of the epistolary novel, because it was with science, technology and teamwork they were able to defeat a vampire fiend and coincidently these are the tools we need to defeat a pandemic too.

And now for something completely different

Unless you have been stored away in the empty caverns of some distant cave in an abandoned mine you will be very aware of all the political upheaval of last night. Let us take a step away from contemporary society to something bigger than individual human beings; let us take a moment tomorrow night and gaze at our shared heavens, at our celestial partner our Moon. October begins tomorrow and is heralded in with a big beautiful full moon. October 2020 has two full moon events and it would be foolish not to at least pause and appreciate our bounteous heavens in spite of the disorder here on Earth.

What seems sometimes like another lifetime ago I was a girl in the Commonwealth of Virginia, a resident of Newport News.  As such we wouldn’t miss a glorious full moon to sit in candlelight and tell a fabulous goblin tale. Modern life on the peninsula was surrounded by history and the past. Evidence of the American Revolution, and the War Between the States sometimes dwarfed modern life. There was no ignoring the past, a ride past  historic Fort Monroe on a trip to the beach was a reminder that once upon a time Edgar Allan Poe also called Virginia home. A bicycle ride in forgotten woods would reveal ancient house foundations belonging to lost settlers was always possible in Virginia; if there be graves than there might be ghosts too. Tomorrow take a moment to escape the media to sit down and take in the night sky the way humans have for thousands of years. There will always be political strife, but two full moons in a single month is a rarity, that’s why they’re called blue moons. 

Giselle and the Pirate’s Ghost 9.30.2020

Giselle swam down in the shadow of the sperm whale until the glow of the moon was merely a memory and the only illumination was the bioluminescence of sea life. Down, down and still further to the depths of the sea until she could see the silhouette of the old ship. The once brilliant sails had all but melted over the decades until only threads hung here and there barely moving in the deep water. Crabs scurried about in the shadows seeking shelter from predators along the planks of the disintegrating deck. 

Giselle saw the low pulsing outline of an octopus tucked into a barrel settled onto the rotting berth. She easily swam down until it was blacker than any night on shore and here she saw the great trunk open and waiting. A smaller octopus sprawled over the gems and coins gathering silt from the sea. Carefully she swam in place and then she eased her hand under the octopus, its suckers tasting her as she did so knowing she was of the sea too. It lifted and shifted to a pail lying on the floor and then she could dip her hands into the treasure that sunk with the sailing ship.

There had been a terrific storm that easily flipped the massive ship about on the sea like a toy boat on river rapids. The ship sank and the crew were lost except for one chained to the chest to protect the swag stolen by conquest of the natives. Emeralds larger than the biggest pearl she had ever seen and plenty of gold chains and coins but they were worthless to Giselle as she wanted the blue gem. This one even in the depths of the sea still cast a blue glow as if a fabulous creature were locked inside. She held it in her palm and she watched as the blue light shifted and bounced off her hand and arm. It floated just above the blue gem and when Giselle held it up to her eye she realized she could not see through the gem but into the gem and there was a story to be seen here, however she was not alone.

The pirate tethered to the chest in life and in death would garner no treaty. Giselle placed the gem amongst the gold and emeralds and quickly removed herself from the phantom of the ship. She swam to the surface of the water where the moon reflected off the sea. She must liberate the gem from the chest for she was sure there was very special magic contained in the blue orb, but she must consider how to do so without paying the levy of the phantom.

Tales from the Sea

Images created with Caran d’Ache Luminance pencils on Strathmore black paper.

Art to Dream by

A1 if wishes were horses to share

As the global pandemic continues to unfold one thing has been clearer for me; the last thing I see before I close my eyes at night should be something to send me to a world of happy slumber. That may seem a little childish; however this whole daily risk of death was something I thought we had as a society left comfortably in the distant past and to use a new phrase I don’t want to adult all the time. Dreams are someplace safe we might take a little cerebral vacation from all the strife of our waking world, and I want to close my afternoon with things that will bring magical dreams rather than nightmares. So my new theme for the time being is Art to Dream by.

Now what I want to dream about may be different than what someone else chooses and the beauty of dreams is all the endless real estate to populate with beautiful images and even some really impossible feats. For example, we live in a modestly sized two bedroom condo and the reality of having a baby Asian elephant to care for is impossible to say the least, and yet I experienced a marvelous dream that we were in fact in a house caring for a baby elephant. The dream left me smiling all day while I took care of laundry just thinking of the roly-poly chubby cherub of a baby elephant to hose down outside and to tuck into its little crib at night was a joy to recall.

When I was a child I would have dreams of flying and I knew others who did as well. Thanks to Jacques Cousteau I could also dream of life in the great big ocean, sometimes swimming and sometimes on a submarine that looked more like a London double-decker bus. Of course I haven’t lost touch with reality but waking up after an especially amazing alternate reality is fabulous.  I won’t have to clean up after a baby elephant as in there’s no litter box, but it was a joyous dream.  Being an adult the nightly news may make us all wish we had something to smile about. I can only imagine what it is like for parents with small children, how to make our reality less scary?

And that is where my idea for Art to Dream by, as in the type of images that would be found in a children’s storybook only larger and with little or no words as to create an image that people can make up their own stories to slip off to dreamland. Because in a society where everybody has an opinion and wants to debate it on social media, isn’t it nice to know that our dreams are our own private kingdom and we can be royalty on a throne or we could have a baby elephant in a two bedroom condo; the choice is ours.

My gouache watercolor If horses were wishes then wizards would fly is painted on Arches cotton paper, iridescent accents achieved with Schmincke metallic watercolors.

Social Distance like a Mermaid

A star gazing mermaid 8.3.20

Social distancing can be very effective if practiced rigorously. It is painfully clear the pandemic hasn’t released its grip on our country or the rest of the world for that matter. Self isolating is a behavior that isn’t so bad once you recognize it frees your mind to think of loftier topics; such as what’s it all about?

In centuries past being a hermit or a recluse was considered a bit standoffish and yet those that pulled away from society for religious reasons are more likely to have come through those bouts of plague better than their families in teeming towns and cities did, and that is something to consider. While I hear it at least once a day the recovery of Covid-19 is 96 percent, okay what if you’re part of the 4 percent mortality; no one wants to be in that group. And that is my point entirely; avoid groups.

Sure we have all heard of infected people, who came through the illness with minimal complications, but there are just as many stories of some healthy, vibrant, human beings who died and for them that means 100% mortality and to avoid that is to change behaviors. Changing behaviors is what human beings have the hardest part with as we all think we know how to take care of ourselves. Regardless of how many Americans are now part of the gross numbers of those that did not survive there are still people that avoid the truth.

We have our children inoculated against measles, mumps, and rubella. We have a tetanus shot about every ten years and if you have a cat or a dog than they are inoculated against rabies and dogs need to be protected from Lyme’s and distemper, not doing so is irresponsible. We all grasp that because we have heard it our whole lives. If you haven’t see the film Ole Yeller, than you may want to view how an unseen microbe can impact a life or you could just recognize that around our global community we’re dealing with a pandemic in catastrophic proportions.

While I miss seeing our family and friends I do not want to risk my life nor would I want them to risk theirs for a chance to say hello. Many years ago I had a family member in a burn unit and we could not visit unless we took precautions such as gowns and masks because they were in a vulnerable critical condition and could not risk any infections. Fresh flowers and fruit were prohibited as it may introduce bacteria, or insects that burn victims could not fight off.  If we could take those precautions for a loved one how difficult is it to be considerate of some else’s loved ones?

Time away from crowds isn’t a bad thing as it gives us time to evaluate what we really miss and what we’re looking forward to and that’s the best part having the clarity of the situation to know that we can overcome this as soon as we’re all on the same page. One thing to me is obvious and that thinking clearly and logically will carry us further than arguing over incidentals. Do I social distance? Of course why would I want to risk my health? Do I a wear a mask, YES, as if my life depended on it. I do miss going to dinner and I do miss getting dressed up to see friends and family, but I know I would miss friends and family more if I unintentionally brought them  death. Alive is where I want to be when this pandemic is over. Alive is my goal and I want that for all my friends and family as well and with that target in mind let’s act accordingly.

My Star Gazing Mermaid is painted with Schmincke Designers Gouache on Arches cotton paper. Enjoying those quiet moments at the beach at sunrise or even under a starry sky is a restorative alternative to the television or computer screen. We will pull through this, we will once again be able to enjoy ourselves in the company of loved ones, but first we need to be safe.

The Dream Ocean

A DreamFish 5.8.20

I dreamt of Las Vegas. What I recall is being on a huge plateau sky deck that overlooked not an arid wilderness, but a vast inland sea that appeared almost overnight. The waves were enormous.

I knew this great galaxy of new life sprang from the clouds and not the dessert below. Exotic creatures swam in the magnificent water that blanked the night sky. The dream ocean hangs above but not drowning the terracotta colored world below.

Even now I can see it as I close my eyes; this amazing ocean floating above the dessert and every now and then some aquatic artifact drifts like a feather to the parched sand below…

The Atlantic Ocean so much a part of my childhood that even as an adult surrounded by dessert I bring the salty brine to my dreams. I watch the epic film Lawrence of Arabia staring Peter O’Toole and I can’t stop my mind wondering all that sand and no sea, how can it be?

Summers of my youth were spent visiting my family in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania hundreds of miles from the ocean and yet dig in the shale of any gravel driveway and fossilized scallop shells were easily found amongst the other rocks. How could there be ancient seashells hundreds of miles from saltwater? I was told was many thousands of years ago the ocean covered nearly the whole planet and then sea life flourished abundantly. The mountains rose up revealing the land beneath to warm and dry in the sun.

Every day I am able I walk the sands that fringe the Gulf of Mexico. Living on an island each day is an opportunity to discover new shells and to witness the abundant wildlife that share Sanibel with the humans. Pelicans dive for fish in deeper water and rays little bigger than a Frisbee skim the ankle-deep waves for breakfast and dinner. Sandpipers forage among the shells washed up for their food and close by people walk with the Sanibel stoop to collect shells. It is a paradise people flock to after the bitterness of winter cold, for on a tropical island spring rules eternal.

Life before we self isolated seems ages ago and yet we attended the 83rd Annual Sanibel Shell Festival in March. This event brings shell collections collected around the world from snorkeling, to scuba divers and even more fantastic are the ancient shells collected in locations far from any saltwater. Spectacular shells belonging to species of mollusks extinct for thousands and sometimes millions of years ago is a rare peek into the evolution of a species.  We may marvel at the ingenuity of an octopus’s camouflage, but we may trace their ancestry back far enough and once they too depended on the protection of a shell.

Shells are the introduction to Sanibel for thousands of visitors every year and while they are here they may have a cloudy day to visit the Bailey Mathews Shell Museums and the prize specimen of the exhibit, a Pacific octopus. When we learn about shells we may also learn about ourselves. What I’ve learned about myself is I would rather have sand between my toes than wear gloves to shield my fingers from freezing cold. I prefer to don a straw hat instead of a woolly knit cap and I’ll take the warmth of the sun over the bite of icy wind. This for me is not new, I have always been a summer loving human and here on Sanibel I savor it every single day.

We have it appears as the rest of the planet come to terms with life during the time of Covid-19 and we must strive to find normalcy in an ever changing world.  Bicycling albeit with a cotton mask covering our nose and mouths is one way we breakup the routine of being inside. Rising and walking the beach just before sunrise to exercise and clear our minds of the negativity of the pandemic is another. Shells are still swept up on the sands daily only there are far fewer people to collect them.

Eventually schools will reopen, children will play with their friends and we as adults will once more gather in mass to watch entertainers or our favorite sports team, but until we have the all clear it is foolish to jeopardize that possibility with false starts that will only prolong self isolating. Treebeard an Ent in JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings had a phrase perfect for humans with low tolerance or impatience, “Don’t be too hasty,” or as Benjamin Franklin is quoted, “Haste makes waste,”. I consider good people a luxury we cannot afford to wreak havoc on.

My Dream Fish an original artwork on Strathmore toned blue mixed media paper. Pablo Swiss made pencils by Caran d’Ache. Golden accents achieved with van Gogh metallic watercolors, all purchased before the pandemic.