Friday, March 5, 2010

One Man's Trash Is Often Just Trash

I'm walking my dogs (two Standard Poodles) on the county beach on Padre Island, Texas, (it butts up to the National Seashore) and I see a nail. So I pick it up.

Then I see another, so I pick it up, too.

I'm not infuriated at some careless Joe who dropped nails where my dogs or someone's child might step. Because I know how the nails got here. Well, I sort of know. 

You see, Padre Island is trash heaven. Because of the way the Gulf of Mexico ebbs and flows, trash from around the world washes up on the beaches. Mostly, the debris is worthless household trash -- soda pop bottles, plastic food containers, plastic bags, rope, balloons, and itty bitty swatches of plastic, cloth, glass, wood, metal and Styrofoam.

It's doubtful anything of value awaits my discovery. (Sherry: I Googled that John Adams dollar coin you found: Minted in 2007. Value? $1.) But, I keep looking, and pick up anything dangerous I find along the way. Like the nails.

So far, I have two nails in my hands, a rusted piece of metal that looks like an old bent coat hanger and a belt buckle.   Now I see more nails. I take a few steps and see a lot of nails, embedded in the sand. Far too many nails for me to pick up and tote away. So I stand and stare and begin to see, oddly enough, some beauty in the way the nails swirl randomly in the sand, a snapshot of chaos. 

So I take a picture. And I rethink what I think about all this trash.

It's worthless now, yes, but in the hands of creative people (the kind who turn found objects into art)  the debris becomes art. The trash becomes something of value.

I walk on, see more nails, bits of burned wood, then a dead duck,  a dead catfish and a dead jelly fish.

All thoughts of art end.

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