last day at the beach

Skies are sunny with a forecast of rain tomorrow. One more day to feel the sand between my toes, the rocks filtering through my hands and the lake wind rustling my hair. This solitary journey has brought new perspective, introspection and yes, I admit it, doubt. 

I read many books while here. Random choices, nothing like what I expected to read. Sacred Sands by J. Ronald Engel, Isaac’s StormA Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson, Native Tongue by Suzette Haden Elgin, parts of Pulphead Essays by John Jeremiah Sullivan, parts of The Forest Unseen - A Year’s Watch in Nature by David George Haskell, and An Invisible Flower by Yoko Ono. Funny how living without a tv focuses energy toward depth. 

Maybe it was because I was by myself 90% of the time but each of these books gave me insight into how we are so small on earth — each tied to the other by the slimmest of evidence.

A lot of my art focuses on connections. How we talk to each other, how we are surrounded by message, how we live in a limited reality. Stories of others pass through consciousness seeking a berth to understanding. Sometimes it works, most times we are oblivious.  

But back to that doubt thing. What is it about introspection that brings me this feeling of malaise? As if I am not quite there yet. Not quite ready for prime time, not quite authentic? I think it might be that my head races in so many directions and accumulates so many ideas that I feel a frantic instability when I try to settle on just one. Too much fun floating among the might have beens rather than focusing on the here it is.  Or maybe I just don’t trust myself to reach the real. Too many years spent doing designery things. Making the picture balance without angst.

Those rocks I collected are silent witnesses for me this week. They remind me to remember the silence and dialog within. To channel the sense of being small in the universe. To remember the way silent witnesses spur me onto truth. 

today's catch

So I just want to know. Do women really change their tampons at the beach or is it that these tampon applicator mini-missiles float to the top of the waste stream and are carried as if on a carpet of magic to the beaches of our lives? 

I went off a beaten path today and wandered down an area of the beach best remembered as the outer limits. You know...exploring, beachcombing in hopes that the outer limits might show me a different side of the edge between land and lake. OK, there were some signs saying I shouldn’t be there. Some fences with barbed wire, the usual territorial hoopla. never mind...

This guy brightened my mood. 

This guy brightened my mood. 

Wandering today brought me to the conclusion that either women are just plain inconsiderate or they need to lobby the tampon industry to make the applicator torpedoes biodegradable. Because after about a mile of wandering the strand of sand I counted at least 10 of them. There was some evidence of a celebration -- spent balloons on ribbons, cigarette butts and empty spirits bottles. But nothing that indicated that the celebration debris was anything but ordinary accumulation. 

Was the moon especially strong this week? Was there a convocation of menstrual maidens in the area? Or did Playtex, Kotex, and Tampax decide they want to be sure that their product has long life and happiness on the beach of their dreams (wait....what is it with the ex in these names anyway?). 

Ladies, please, if it’s you, dispose of these mini missiles appropriately. Or, maybe, just maybe, consider using something that will not live on into the next century. Natural is as natural does so to speak. And shame on the tampon industry, creating a product that does not disappear. Use it one time and discard right? And make sure it is plastic so it floats. Yeah...that's it!

On a more pleasant note.

I found these today. New folks to join my collection of rocks with faces. Man I love these guys! I want to do an installation of them in the future. They just speak to me. 

Check out that guy in the upper left corner. Sculpture! right?

And here is the piece I have been working on with their cousins. I took it to the beach for a little dunk in the lake and some sun today. 

Rock Collection, Paula Kovarik, 2015


Yesterday I spent most of the day walking the beach and dunes. Meandering through the sand hills at the lakeside started me thinking about edges. How edges define space and separate reality. How edges can offer opportunities for growth. How they keep people out. How they keep things in. They define borders and populations, they define differences.  

On this side of the shore the dunes ramble into the water, on the other side the city builds its muscle. 

On this side of the shore the dunes ramble into the water, on the other side the city builds its muscle. 


Edges create tension and stop the blurring of lines. They offer entry into newness and sharpen the soft. They show the worn and messy. They collect the extraneous. They repel the unnecessary. They expose what might not be seen otherwise.

Dunes restoration fence

mapping a miracle

Yesterday I took three walks at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. One to the dunes, one through a marsh and one on the beach. I recommend them all to those who question the value of preserving national parks.

I met a scientist from India on this path. He was amazed by the treasure of it.

I met a scientist from India on this path. He was amazed by the treasure of it.

Textures and color create tempting avenues for exploration. How might I stitch this pattern?

Textures and color create tempting avenues for exploration. How might I stitch this pattern?

The sounds in this marshland were primordial:gurgling gallumps, screeching squeals, twittering clicks and clacks. The sounds of new life.

The sounds in this marshland were primordial:gurgling gallumps, screeching squeals, twittering clicks and clacks. The sounds of new life.

This park is a skinny shard of what it could have been. Having just finished a book called Sacred Sands, the Struggle for Community at the Indiana Dunes by J. Ronald Engel, I am amazed that there is anything left at all. Between the push for steel mills and power stations, deep water ports and railroads this skinny little strip was mangled, disfigured and mined for its riches. Even the district politicians in 1966 were against having a national lakeshore designation citing the economic benefits that the industry brought to the state. Hanging by threads to the remaining ecosystems the park managers focus on biodiversity and preserving what remains.

The park is a patchwork of geometry striated with roads.

I applaud the efforts of the band of devoted citizens, both in the past and present who see the value of preserving this wonderland. 

bearing witness

It is a gray day here with promise of sun in the afternoon. Gray days allow for long walks on the beach without the worry of sunstroke. 

Walking the beach at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore brings you face to face with industry. These smokestacks merging with gray clouds is a striking image in a natural preserve.

The folks at the National Lakeshore consider themselves stewards of the disparate ecosystems in their care. Biodiversity, restoration, replenishment and reexamining is the focus. Botanists, biologists, geologists and myriad other folk focus their attention on what has been saved, not what has been taken. These mills, smokestacks and furnaces bear witness to the history of the area when industry was king and economic stimulus was primary. 

Meanwhile over on a more secluded part of the beach I found at least a dozen monarch butterflies. At first I thought they were just landing. Then I realized they were dead. I couldn't help but wonder what they were doing there. Was this a last ditch effort to cross the water? Do they come here to party? Is it a migration zone? I need to do more research. Their colorful bodies being cradled by the rocks were stunning. 

And then I came upon this rock. A clear and present witness to the flight of the butterflies. Did he see it all happen? Does he have any thoughts about it? What exactly happened to that nose of his?

This piece began with one of his brethren. Rocks with holes in them always look like sentient beings to me. As you can see there are many others who bear witness to the surf, sand, butterflies and random humanoids with collection baskets.