I love the textures of this photograph. It was taken with a telephoto lens, not a macro, as I did not own one at this point. Still, the detail came out perfectly, even the little snail tucked under one of the crevices in the broken trunk of the live oak. There is a subtle, yet almost violent movement in the lines, which lead to the center, but the many fissures and cracks scatter one’s attention.
“Boneyard Beach” on Big Talbot Island just north of Jacksonville, Florida is aptly named because of the many skeletons of driftwood trees left behind by hurricanes and time. This one must’ve fallen a number of years ago, because even the jagged edges had been smoothed, and I could run my hands over the wood without fear of splinters. The diameter of the trunk was about 6 inches at its widest, which made it a rather small live oak.
The gradients and ribboned-patterns in the wood are beautiful, and they were what drew me to woodworking and turning bowls on the lathe (another one of my hobbies) in the first place. Although these would have been enough to make and interesting composition, it is that little tulip snail that is almost hidden in plain sight that makes the photograph. When I first took the photograph, I didn’t notice the little snail. Now, however, I cannot draw my eyes away from it. It is a subtle sign of life clinging to the underside of the long dead tree.
I can’t put my finger precisely on what feeling it evokes in me, but I sense a certain kinship with the snail. It is a survivor amongst a powerful and rough-hewn backdrop, yet a part of it is anchored to something that was destroyed by a power greater than it can ever possibly conceive. Perhaps, also, it is because the snail is alone, whether by choice or fate. Whether it is a hermit or in exile, I can only venture to guess, but I cannot help anthropomorphizing the little tulip snail whatever its true reason for being there.