Sometime this summer my life got a little intense and I needed to get away for a bit. I went to stay in an old cottage by the sea and started taking long walks every day.
When you put your life on hold for a while, it gives you a suspended sort of feeling, as if time had stopped and left only you free to explore the moment. I started noticing things I’ve never seen before. Do you have any idea how many different shades of green there are? And have you ever listened to the birds chirping away throughout the day?
In a sunny bay I noticed scratch marks in the sand. They were different each day, some days shallow, some days deep, but always in the same area below the high tide mark. One morning I saw someone scratching in the sand with a stick. By the time I arrived they were gone, but the tide was still out, and I could see a picture in the sand: a colony of gulls standing, flying, landing, their wings still outstretched. I loved it.
I decided to go to the beach early the next day, to try and catch the sand-painter. When I arrived the next morning, the sand was fresh and smooth. I started walking to and fro on the beach. My patience, or lack of it, was rewarded, when I saw the sand-painter scratching away again.
Walking towards the sand-painter, I wondered how to start a conversation without seeming too rude. When I was fairly close she looked up and said “Hello, there”, and I was surprised at the friendly greeting. Afterwards I realised, my footprints told the story of my lying-in-wait only too clearly.
I looked at the new picture, a peacock in a garden. Each feather so clearly defined, you could all but see the colours. “It’s beautiful”, I gasped. She smiled, and looked pleased. “How kind”, she said. “You make a sand-painting every day?” “Most days.” “But it’s washed away by the tide.” “So it is”, she agreed. “Do you take photos then?” She laughed. “I never even thought of that.”
“But it’s a shame, all these beautiful pictures lost”, I burst out. She looked away quickly, but I caught the tears in her eyes. She was still for a minute. I started to apologise, and she silenced me with a small wave of her hand. “No, you’re right. It doesn’t last.”
“Nothing lasts”, she added quietly, and looked down again. I was sorry for intruding on her solitude. “So long”, I mumbled and started to walk away.
I hadn’t gone far when she called after me. “This way, there are no errors. There’s only the way it is.”
The challenge: Art.