Undulation

In 2019 and 2020 high waters in the Great Lakes basin caused storms, wind, waves and high water to undercut the foundations of majestic undulating towering dunes. In the wake of the collapse dramatic and abrupt changes took place. It caused me to reflect that the undulation along the dunes was just like life in general. Just like the dunes, life has its ups and downs, peaks and valleys high points and low points and sometimes blowouts. We become accustomed to and accept the smoothly rising and falling undulation in our life as a pattern. When disrupted in dramatic fashion as it was in 2019/2020, the collapse of the foundations and the resultant new reality can be climactic, startling and powerful. The purpose of the photos in the exhibit “ADrift”, the results of these dramatic powerful forces, I hope demonstrate the natural beauty of disruption. The “go with flow” undulating patterns in our life and disruption is set in our paths for a purpose. It’s what you do with the inevitable out of your control disruption that is relevant. Talk about drama. It’s dramatic with a cast of characters each playing a role. Wind, water, waves, grains of sand, vegetation, sun and storms each have a role played out in four seasons or “acts” called Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. I walk along the beach and marvel at the dunes with their soaring peaks and valleys. You can’t see the wind but you can see its handiwork. Dune sand consists primarily of quartz with lesser amounts of feldspar, magnetite (the “black sand” you often see on the beach that looks like an oil spill) and traces of other minerals, such as calcite, garnet, and hornblende. Sand particles end up rounded, frosted and polished by continuous collisions with other sand grains. It’s why the sand feels so good under your bare feet. The movement of these grains of sand by the wind create the dunes with settled sand forming an undulating pattern along the ridge. Dune formation is a dynamic, cyclic process.

100 yards out in the water it's easy to see the undulating pattern of the dunes
100 yards out in the water it’s easy to see the undulating pattern of the dunes

We like pattern because it is comfortable, it is “normal.” When the pattern is interrupted by things outside our control it gets interesting. When the pattern is interrupted we pay attention. We can use it as an opportunity to bring things into focus. While dealing with erosion and change, looking through the lens of the camera, we can renew our wonder with something as simple as a grain of sand. It reminded me that sometimes change, erosion, setbacks are beneficial. They force us to see things from a new perspective, in a new light, from a different angle, get us out of our comfort zone and opens the door to renewal. One of the cast of characters, wind, plays a key role. I will at times lay flat on the sand and watch the wind’s handiwork. (Click images to enlarge)

When the sand grains move en masse via saltation, they are picked up by the wind and dropped in a cycling repetitive motion. Saltation is a word used in biology and geology. The dictionary describes it as such: noun BIOLOGY abrupt evolutionary change; sudden large-scale mutation. GEOLOGY the movement of hard particles such as sand over an uneven surface in a turbulent flow of air or water. The mass movement of sand creates the undulating dunes built over time, only to be torn down and shifted in dramatic fashion by water, wind and waves. In 2019 and 2020 high waters in the Great Lakes basin caused storms, wind, waves and high water to undercut the foundations of these undulating towering dunes. Centuries ago a Maritime attacking tactic created the phrase “Between Wind and Water.” The few feet around the waterline on a sailing ship are alternately exposed to the air or water as the ship rolls through the sea. It was the area aimed at by gunners, as the seas would gush in through the damaged hull as the target rolled. That’s what I observed with the high water and waves as they crashed against the dunes. Struck at their foundation, the collapse was immediate and dramatic. As foundations built on sand crumbled, the face of the dune quickly changed shape as you can see from my pictures. In the wake of the collapse dramatic and abrupt changes took place. It caused me to reflect that the undulation along the dunes was just like life in general. Just like the dunes, life has its ups and downs, peaks and valleys high points and low points and sometimes blowouts. The dictionary defines undulation as a noun the action of moving smoothly up and down a smoothly rising and falling form, outline, or movement “the road follows the undulations of the countryside.” We become accustomed to and accept the smoothly rising and falling undulation in our life as a pattern. When disrupted in dramatic fashion as it was in 2019/2020, the collapse of the foundations and the resultant new reality can be climactic, startling and powerful. The purpose of the photos in the exhibit “ADrift”, the results of these dramatic powerful forces, I hope demonstrate the natural beauty of disruption. The “go with flow” undulating patterns in our life and that disruption is set in our paths for a purpose. It’s what you do with the inevitable out of your control disruption that is relevant. It’s like the Marram grass on the foredunes. Dune vegetation is adapted to constant sand burial and abrasion. As plants are buried by sand, they continue to form new growth above the sand while their roots and rhizomes continue to grow and stabilize the sand. When the pattern moves from the expected undulation to unexpected dramatic change we have choices how to react. The photos of disruption in “ADrift” are my personal ponderance through the lens of my camera of such things.

The natural undulation of the dunes was disrupted in dramatic fashion by the Great Lakes basin high water event of 2019/2020
The natural undulation of the dunes was disrupted in dramatic fashion by the Great Lakes basin high water event of 2019/2020

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