Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Art of the Engineered Beach and the True Meaning of Life

As I understand, the stones and pilings on this section of shoreline on Bellingham Bay were brought in from elsewhere and arranged esthetically by beach engineers in what seems to me to be the spirit of Japanese rock gardens rather than the natural appearance of the shores of Bellingham Bay.  I've written about this aspect of Bellingham's shoreline before.  In a few weeks, a new section of engineered beach will be completed and open to the public.

"They were intended to imitate the intimate essence of nature, not its actual appearance, and to serve as an aid to meditation about the true meaning of life."
(from the Wiki article on Japanese rock gardens)

I'm experiencing something like cognitive dissonance.  Can you tell? The beaches are gratifying to my sense of design and yet I'm deeply aware that the nature of the shoreline of Bellingham Bay has been radically altered from its original state time after time since the first Europeans arrived here in 1792.  I wonder how long this Japanese rock garden phase will last.

When I arrived in Bellingham in 1974, there was little easy access to the shoreline of Bellingham Bay, and much of that shoreline was devoted to the logging and pulp mill industry.  Bellingham Bay is looking much healthier than it did in much of the second half of 20th century, and the relatively recently accessible shoreline is enjoyed by residents and visitors from around the state, the nation and the world.  


The Solitary Walker said...

Enjoy it while it's there is the message, I think! Love Japanese gardens — there's one near here you can visit. We went there the day our dog had to be put to sleep, and it had a very calming effect.

Anonymous said...

Such an interesting line: to imitate the intimate essence of nature.

Sometimes I wonder, what have we done; what have we done? The planet has come undone by our handiwork.

bev said...

From an ecological standpoint, the engineered beach strikes me as disturbing. I can sort of see making some human-designed beach as a remediation project after it has beenmessedupby an environmental catastrophe ofsome sort. However, We're living in a time when we should really be trying to restore beaches, river shorelines, and wetland areas to a fairly natural-like state thatprovides habitt for native plants and creatures. I used to do a lot of stream survey work and then saw the results of engineered shorelines which were often minimalist, had big stones arranged in an artistic fashion, etc... Usually, the design ended up being sort of artistic but entirely hostile as natural habitat. Wwe do enough destruction through our day to day actions. I can't really see the point of altering a place when it couldjust aseasily be made useful as naturl habitt...but then I realize I'm quite biased about such matters.

Friko said...

Man has engineered the entire planet since he first appeared on it. And yet the planet survives and will do until some force decrees that it’s time to implode/explode/disappear/regenerate as something entirely new.

Whatever we do, we are of no consequence. except to ourselves.

Dominic Rivron said...

How long will it last? Probably for as long as it takes the sea to patiently restore it.

i live in the UK and enjoy the "wild places" there. However, wildness here is 9 times out of 10 an illusion - for example, bald moorland was usually forested at one time, before we chopped down the trees.

Nick said...

Everything changes. Enjoy it as it is and look forward to what it will become.

am said...

Thank you everyone for your comments.

Thank you Friko, Dominic and Nick for stopping by via Solitary Walker and for commenting. I've added you to my blog list.