If you couldn't tell, my latest obsession is barnacles! I found my current muse as I was walking along the beach on a cold blue-grey winter day on Cape Cod when I saw a bunch of rocks covered in wild patterns. Woo, rocks right? Sounds exciting. Well anything can be new and exciting if you decide to look at it in a new way. For me, even a frigid rock-filled beach can hold adventures and curious finds. So I knelt down to look more closely at these smooth round stones that were covered with little alien populations.
I grew up in Texas so my experience with sea life has been pretty limited up until now. I had previously only seen barnacles on the beams of an old pier in the Gulf of Mexico, and they were big and colorful and empty, like little ill-formed bowls. Here I was face-to-face with miniature little white mountain ranges that curved and covered every side of the smooth world they clung on to. I was fascinated with these strange pointed little mouths that emerged from the tops. As I poked at them, I tried to imagine how these little creatures moved. Could they push their little pointed faces out and open their mouths like the monsters in Tremors? I imagine their movements slow and jerky like the little brightly colored plastic fish that open and close their mouths spasmodically as they circle around in the children's game "Gone Fishing". Remember the little plastic poles with the little balls at the end of a string that you would lower down into the fish's mouth as it closed to try to hook it and pull it from its plastic rotating pond?
I run to catch up to my husband and our two dogs, who being used to my stopping to look at nothing have kept walking. I thrust a few carefully selected colonies in my husband's face with the excitement of a five year old. "Yep, barnacles," he says. I launch into an unprovoked explanation of my fascinating discovery to which he laughs and recounts his own experiences with barnacles as a child running around the beaches of Cape Cod, cursing them for cutting his feet and interrupting a heated game of wiffle ball or frisbee. He's amused by my curiosity of the seemingly mundane. Unfettered, I turn my eyes to the sand, scouring the shore for the next treasure.
Endless beauty and inspiration surround us all the time. You just have to stop and look a little closer sometimes. To me, that's what art is all about.