Thursday, March 16, 2017


We’re driving up the South Padre Island beach in southern Texas on a particularly gray day when suddenly our path is squeezed by a fallen tree. Stop. Wait. What’s on that tree?

I get out. And look.

I see a collection of children’s toy boats balanced down the limb toward the Gulf of Mexico. Wow. It’s amazing the wind and the waves have failed to claim these toys. I walk closer. And learn why. Each plastic boat is attached to the tree by a galvanized screw. It’s intentional. It’s beach art. I feel blessed by beach art.I climb back in the truck  and we continue our journey (skirting the installation, of course, dipping our tires into the waves). Not far down the beach I see another piece of colorfully adorned driftwood. Stop!

I get out and walk closer. It’s the same concept — toys screwed to the tree — but the toys are different. They’re ravaged.  It’s not just art. It’s art from objects found on the beach, left behind by tourists or washed ashore by waves (anything that topples overboard into the Gulf of Mexico eventually washes up on Padre Island. It’s just the way the currents go.

SO I feel twice blessed. Take tons of close-ups and stand for a long shot. That's when I see them. In the distance. Behind the dunes. Other pieces of art. Jutting up from the sand. A gallery of beach art hidden behind the dunes. I walk closer to each one. Examine the media. Take pictures. Holler to Allen to come look.

 A missile, ready for launch. 

It's made from 5-gallon buckets and their lids.

A Christmas tree.

Its base decorated with lost cigarette lighters and toys.

Lost shoes form its boughs.

I found this thingamajig. Looks like a failed torpedo, striped with spent lighters.

A little garden gives the sand a pop of color.

Soon, we hop back in the truck and continue our journey. STOP! More beach art. This one is spectacular. An abandoned diving bell decorated with beer cans, seashells and plastic toys. AND, a sense of humor and design. 

And finally, we see this. 

Allen says it's not art. Because it lacks intent. I say art is in the eye. Snap the picture. Then we continue on our journey.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Things that make me laugh

I laughed out loud.

It was a sudden, burst of a single HA. The kind that makes you look around, to see if anyone heard you.

Here’s the story.

The beach at South Padre Island is salted with wee bitty crabs about the size of a quarter. They skitter sideways, cleverly dodging trouble (birds, waves, human feet) by slipping down little holes in the sand.

As they grow, they move up into the dunes and build wider, deeper hideaway holes.

Today, I encountered one of those bigger crabs, about the size of a clamshell phone. Predictably, he skittered down the nearest big hole. 

Here’s where I laughed.

He immediately shot up out of the hole, followed by the claw of an even bigger crab, about the size of an IHop pancake.

What to do? Where to go? In an instant, he recalculated his life-saving escape and skittered sideways away.

For the rest of my walk home, I thought of the life lessons those two crabs taught me. Feel free to add your own:

1. Always call first.
2. Sometime size does matter.
3. Don’t go where you are not wanted.
4. Don’t panic.
5. Don’t be an old crab. :)