Someone has finally asked about it. I was beginning to wonder. It’s been up for the last…what?…nineteen months now, and just when I was concluding from the uninterrupted silence that nobody else found it as arresting as I do, Nel over at Life’s Infinite Possibilities (with stunning headers of her own btw) said…
What’s that “thing” (for lack of a better word) on your header?
I believe she was an arthropod of some kind but I can’t be more specific than that. I found her exposed just as pictured, over on the coastline of the Olympic Peninsula three or four years ago. A seagull–or perhaps one of the many eagles that inhabit the place, I don’t know–had taken a couple bites out of her before being interrupted, maybe by the hubster and I as we meandered up the shore.
By the time I reached her side, she was still alive but mortally wounded. I found her extraordinarily beautiful…the colors so vibrant on an overcast, dreary March day that they took my breath away. She was a tiny, dying spot of brilliance in a wild landscape of muted grays.
After I took the photograph I cupped her oh-so-gently in my hands, walked down to the water, and placed her right-side up again in the sea. She curled a little when she felt the stones beneath her…the cradling of the water…and I like to think she was happier there. Safer. Like the difference between dying peacefully at home, surrounded by the familiar and loved, versus upside down and alone in a car crash on the side of an anonymous interstate.
A little farther down the beach we also found a dead seal that was only beginning to decompose.
I originally planned to use this photo in the header but it never felt right. Looking back now I think it’s because my primary focus here is on dying rather than death. Both are profoundly beautiful to me, but with as much as I love the stars and stillness of deep night, it’s the elusive magic of twilight…that impossible alchemy that occurs as something is changing its very state of being into something else…that haunts me. I guess that’s why I’ve always been drawn to transitional environments like coastlines and twilight hikes and storms and hospice. Because they provide portals into the strange, limbo world of transmutation where I can then observe and try to document its mechanics, firsthand.
copyright Dia Osborn 2011