Another strange and twisted piece of driftwood has been washed up on the beach. This one seems to have several different faces in it. It reminds me of Celtic art with animals all done in twisting and overlapping positions. Unlike the Book of Kells, however, which is colorful and illuminated, the driftwood bears no color but gray. It is this color, or lack thereof, that gives driftwood its unmistakable and haunting appeal.
|Another ghost upon the shore.|
But they’re all just ghosts. No matter how soft they might be to the touch, no matter how wispy and silvery, no matter how carved, molded, and etched--they’re all just ghosts. When something gets swept into the ocean, it does not return the same, assuming it returns at all. The ocean is very greedy for the stored energy in the hapless castaways that are unfortunate enough to fall into its clutches. In the case of wood, which was grown and nurtured on land and which holds the secret energy of the sun, the appetite of the ocean is insatiable. Although it has its own strange energies and deep currents, some which are still not completely understood, the ocean always hungers for more.
So when they wash up on the shore, they are forever changed. Their dance with the ocean--at first violent and thrashing, and later smooth and undulating--has stolen much of their original nature away. They are ghostly caricatures of what they once were. The green of life has been devoured. The brown of decay has been savored. Only the silvery ghostly soul remains, haunting the shore, and this is why we cannot take our eyes off driftwood once we see it.
When I was young, we would set the ghosts free. We would light a fire and put the driftwood in it. These days I’m told it gives off a toxic smoke filled with dioxins, but somehow we all survived back then. If you are bold enough to try it, you will see the ghosts being released. The properties the driftwood has absorbed from the ocean will come flying out in flames of purple, blue, and green. The colors are magnificent at night! The Earth and Sun energy may have been stolen by the Ocean, but the power absorbed in exchange is undeniable. Unearthly. Unbelievably haunting.
When old ghosts are bothering my mind and heart from days gone by, I always seem to find a piece of strange driftwood. It’s as if it has been searching for me all these years. I wait for night and light a fire and set the ghosts free. Purple, blue, and green salamanders fly off into the darkness and find another place to haunt. I’m free again, for the time being, until the ghosts return.