Nature’s Art: Patterns on an Oregon Beach

The scene below looks like a picture of a group of projectiles heading in the same direction. Using your imagination it could represent any number of things. It could be a close-up photo of a sport climbing wall shot from a different angle. It might also be a group of asteroids soaring through space just after a star exploded. Could it be fireworks falling from the sky on the Fourth of July? Or could they be sperm swimming and racing to be the first one to reach an egg? Can you think of any other possibilities?

Mother Nature is an awesome abstract artist. For this piece of art, all she needed was a steady northwest wind and for the canvas to be just below the high tide line. The stones were polished and rounded by abrasion from wave action in the surf zone. An incoming tide combined with some wave action, deposited them near the high tide line. A brief intrusion of sea water packed down the sand below to provide a harder, more uniform surface for the stones to lay upon.

Now that Mother Nature had the stones glued onto the canvas, she needed brush strokes trailing from the stones, all in the same direction. For this, she used the steady northwest wind to blow and thus carry dry sand across the beach. Since the stones already protruded up off of the beach, they blocked the wind, allowing blowing sand particles to slow enough to be dropped just behind them. In any other areas of the beach, the wind is still strong enough to keep the sand moving and not allowing it to build up.

This is only a temporary art display. A change in wind direction, tidal height change by moon phase, or increased surf activity coinciding with a high tide will wipe this mural clean. Then, Nature can create a different art form. If you ever used an etch-a-sketch as a kid, you know what I mean.

Some of Nature’s Art is more permanent, such as you would find in rock formations. Nature’s Art happens to be more ephemeral in littoral zones. But dismay not, since tomorrow brings a new piece of art to a new canvas. Get out your tide tables and head to the beach after a new or full moon to find an art installation near the high tide line!

3 thoughts on “Nature’s Art: Patterns on an Oregon Beach

  1. Hi, Mick – I LOVE this photo!. I also want to add how over the years I have come to more fully appreciae and enjoy all the variations of color and shades, sometimes so subtle, of the natural world. This photo is a stunning example. Thanks for sharing, Margie


  2. Some of the streets in Bend have this look after that storm yesterday. Not nearly as pretty as this picture. 🙂 Mother nature is a far better artist than I am.


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