By Sarah West
I reached for my sunglasses, then the overhead button; the sunroof opened and the car filled with salted balmy air. The light flickered in slow flashes as I drove through the tree-lined arcade. I stopped for a dry cappuccino at a favored café, and paused to read in a cool white-washed corner before making my way to the shoreline. My walk to the sands was at a slow pace. I stopped often to consider the landscape of the seemingly far off place, still so close to everything.
Over pale ghostly dunes, new pines reach upwards with determination. I’m always captivated by the early blooms of magnolia and the lavender hues of Lupine. For wildlife, this is a refuge, free from development. So near to luxurious progression, yet natural wonders remain virtually untouched.
Perhaps this, too, is reason I return often.
I walked to the water’s edge, and there I stood. The tide was serene, water clear with sapphire and emerald in the distance. The sunlight cast kaleidoscope patterns on the corrugated sands below. Shells washed ashore and then burrowed into the surface near my feet, reminding me that there is still life to be lived until an end is reached. This ecosystem seemingly untouched at first glance is effected by our every footprint. I see a shell caught amid the cresting wave. I attempt to determine whether or not it is complete before reaching to retrieve it. Captured. I keep it. It will become a talisman that prompts consideration. The foam chills my feet and the sun warms me. I think to myself, I want to write about this moment, but I question “what will this mean?”
The tourist tracks, the morning runner, the aesthetic voyager, the child building the nearby sand castle.
We take something from the earth with each new step. I often wonder, “With as much as we take, do we give at least this much back?”
How far does the light go, and what do call that ever changing kaleidoscope that the sun casts and the water reflects upon the earth below? I leave the beach with my one seashell. Like the waves, these questions echo. That moment in the sun. The time in which that ray of light found me, the space between the waves. In intervals they wash against me. I’m quite far inland, now. Days since, I claimed the shell, meditated among the dunes, and watched the foam collect round the wall of the cappuccino cup and the light still finds me.
Sarah West serves the Opelika Observer as a contributing columnist, with written works of Cultural Arts relevance and prose. She is a preservation, and conservation advocate, activist, and visual artist of American Illustration with a focus on Regional Narrative Painting. She is founder of the Sarah West Gallery of Fine Art, A Center for Cultural Arts, Smiths Station, Alabama’s premier fine arts destination. She is the appointed Official Artist to the City of Smiths Station, a Lee County syndicated columnist, the director of her art center’s Cultural Arts Outreach Initiative which partners with local schools to make the arts accessible to all. She also serves a chief curator to the City of Smiths Station, City Hall Art Galleries. She is a founding member of the Smith Station Historic Commission. She is a member of the Women’s Philanthropy Board- Cary Center, Auburn University College of Human Science. She is an elected member of the Society of Illustrators- NYC. She mentors art students of every age through weekly classes at her studio located in the heart of Smiths Station, Alabama. To learn more about her work and activism visit Sarah West Fine Art Gallery