Retirement is interesting. The first month was a breeze. Then all the issues I had kept under an iron lid, in order to be able to get to work each day and keep my job, started to exercise themselves and the ride got progressively rougher. I stopped sculpting for a while.
I returned to the beach on September 22, without the camera. The Canon EOS-1D Mark II is a great camera but is big and heavy. Add the 24-70 zoom and it's a serious addition to the load. It was hard enough getting myself moving, and shedding the camera made it a little easier.
There has always been tension between sculpture and record-keeping. I decided to concentrate on sculpture. A few friends remonstrated with me and eventually got me to bring the camera with me, but not until early 2011.
10P-10, September 22: no report, no photographs. I found some notes in an Email archive.
"Today, weather and tide lined up, and I picked up the tool pack and the Rolls Rolls skateboard and headed for Venice. I hadn't slept all that well, so was far from bushy-tailed, but I was in the mood.
"I hoped for good sand. It wasn't bad, but there were still lots of shells and fragments in it. Carving was a rather skittery process. I'm also out of shape for this and ran out of steam pretty early on. There was nothing startling or new... but it did feel good.
"This one, 10P-10, was a return to past practice: no camera, no plan. Just... get the hands into the sand."
10P-11, September 24: no report, but I found a short note in the Email archive.
"I got 10P-11 off, despite having at one time a football land in my lap. I had some hot words for the throwers, who continued, being young men who knew everything. Eventually they left and I was left to finish the sculpture in peace. This one was much better developed, in good part because there was lots less rough material in the sand. It much more invited the touch that produces nice shapes. The shapes themselves were pretty, if not all that original, but it did have a nice lightness to it that I liked. Other than the football guys and a great overabundance of helicopters it was a nice day, warm, sunny, mild breeze moving some patient sailors."
10P-12, October 19: no report, no photos. Note from Email says:
"The sun had come out, so I walked to the library via the beach. By the time I actually started walking the clouds had closed in again and I got a few sprinkles, but then the clouds opened up. By the time I reached the beach the sky was about half clear, but there were clouds offshore with brushstrokes of rain laid over them in places. The air was clear and the ocean sparkled where the sun hit.
"The sand was good. I put my pack down, took my shirt off (so it wouldn't get sandy) and started making a pile. Tide was at its low stand. I knew I'd have to be quick. I started too low, where the sand was very wet, and the sides of the borrow pit graduall collapsed and sloughed away, approaching the pile's base. I shored it up with more sand. Got it done, started to shape it, and noticed growing cracks in the side away from the borrow pit. Undermined, and the sea approaching. Gave it up, walked into the water to wash the sand off, turned around and what remained of the pile was surrounded by water."
10P-13, October 20: no report, no photos. I found this in the Email archive.
"Then suggestions of sunlight were showing so I went for a walk. Lovely post-storm. Clouds around in layers and tatters, shafts of sunlight. The streets were still wet. Gentle breeze from the southwest.
"The tide was low. Well, I expected that. Had no real destination so turned south. Upper beach sand was damp down to three or four inches, which indicates we got appreciable rain this time. I idly wondered what the sand was like at the Breakwater, but had no real hope because of storm turbulence. The surf was fairly strong.
"One of the storm drains had quite a bit of water backed up. It seemed close to overflowing the built-up bar into the ocean; seagulls and other birds were bathing in the dirty mess. I ambled on down...a nd found an expanse of lovely sand behind the breakwater. Oh, my... I went to work. Best sand I've had in a long time. There wasn't much time so I went for an arch... but a very large arch. Might have been the tallest I've ever made. If not, close. Carved with a mussel shell, which was all I could find, and finished as the tide rose and pushed water into the borrow pit. Such an elegant shape... I haven't done one in a long time.
"The sand was getting wet. The arch wouldn't stand for much longer, so I turned away and headed home. The storm drain was even closer to overflowing... so I gave it some help. Cut a narrow channel through the bar with my foot. This became fascinating. Water immediately started running into the channel but sank into the sand until it got wet enough. Slowly flowing water worked farther along the channel, which was around 10 feet long. To help it along I widened the inlet end and deepened it some. Eventually the tongue of water reached the end of the channel and flowed out onto the smooth beach.
"Water carries material in exponential proportion to the speed of flow. The different rates of flow at different times and places in the stream drew these lovely patterns on the sand that changed moment by moment. Standing waves formed in the channel, and when they collapsed more water would get through, which would change everything downstream. The channel, being a bit steeper and narrow, had faster flow that would pick up sand. Then when the water spread at the end the sand load would drop out, coarser grains first, as along the edges where the water disappeared into the beach. So, each little change wrote lines of coarse, light-colored grains along the edges of its deposit, and successive deposits would raise the level so the water eventually went elsewhere, only to come back when the sand level over there rose. Until the channel cut its way through all of them, making a new mouth farther down. Very subtle, very beautiful. As the water got the beach wet it would flow farther down, spreading at the same time, changing each time one of the upstream waves collapsed. It's easier to flow where the sand is already wet. Once the storm drain water reached the place where the highest wave had reached, it kept on going with little trouble.
"The storm drain impoundment was still rising, pushing its own tongue over another low point. I didn't stay for that. Too chilly to stand around much longer... sun was setting, crepuscular rays through the cloud layers, reflected light on the bottoms of offshore clouds. An astonishing world..."
2017-11-23: added notes from Email archive about these