Sketchbook in hand, I found a good Northwest scene for a painting — a dock, some wooden boats. Someone saw what I was doing and ignored my presence as usual, but later I felt someone really was watching me. You know that feeling? It turned out to be a hermit crab next to me on the piling. Hanging on to a barnacle field and waiting for tide’s return, the little guy and his protective traveling shell-home reminded me that this single piling is like a little city within itself. It was almost completely covered with animals.
The upper-most part that was out of the water at low tide had small acorn barnacles – definitely low rent. Below that and wet more often than not, periwinkles and larger acorn barnacles, like self-contained efficiency apartments. Below that and always under water were shore crabs, anemones and mussels. Then the high-rent district: tube worms, plumose anemones, ochre stars and black chitons. Now, it occurred to me that every one of there critters is a predator lying in wait to devour whatever it can get its ‘hands’ on — or, it was prey for something else. What a scary place to live, but it’s what they call home. There’s a similar place — and it’s ALSO called Washington.
Larry Eifert paints and writes about wild places. His work can be seen in many national parks across America – and at larryeifert.com.