The Great Outdoors: Magical Driftwood Beaches

In New York City today, it is... frigid. It was so cold that when I left the apartment this morning, I seriously contemplated going back inside and adding another layer (or three, or maybe five). So, can you really blame me for wanting to continue writing about happier things, like warm weather, beaches, and sandals? It's ultimately my choice (*ahem* it is my blog here, I'm choosing to pull that card), so I'm going to continue walking down the "Molly's Holiday Vacation" miniseries path today and share another little trip we took. As a family, we jaunted out to a magical driftwood-laden beach at Big Talbot Island (not too far from Amelia Island, where we stayed for New Year's celebrations).

There are a few different aspects of driftwood that are almost dangerously poetic to me. First off, let's explain what it is. Found near oceans, lakes, and rivers, driftwood is born when a piece of wood - usually large branches pulled down by rough storms, whole trees that have been uprooted near a source of water, or even shipwrecked lumber - is in, or exposed to, water for a hefty amount of time. As the wood is repeatedly drenched in water over and over again, it's stripped of it's bark and bleached by the sun. It's also sometimes colonized by bacteria, algae, and other aquatic life, burrowing holes and homes. When driftwood ends up ashore, transformed by the time spent being underwater and drying out underneath the sun, it's extremely light both in color and in weight while the outer appearance is smooth and twisted.

You might know and recognize driftwood from stores like Restoration Hardware - it's often harvested and used in sculptures, furniture, and other housewares. But for me, I grew up with it on the beaches. And that's how it worked it's way into my heart, really. I have massive nostalgia every time I come across a shoreline covered in the skeletal remains of trees intertwined with one another; and it's because of places like Big Talbot Island.

Maybe it's my personal Floridian history with it, but driftwood is infinitely more to me than a chair or a candle-holder. Every time I see a piece of it, my mind is driven to think about the way that the weather changes the wood not all at once, but slowly over time. How it's composition is altered so drastically into an almost completely new entity, being morphed into a mummified remnant of what it once was. It's beachy and romantic to decorate your home with, sure, but driftwood is also a symbol of the past and a reminder of how consistent change is. It makes me identify with driftwood a lot of the time - not in a Tim Burton kind of way, but because of the transition that the wood goes through from one stage of it's life to the next. Each piece of driftwood ends up with it's own uniqueness based on the weathering it went through; for me, this matches how each of us as individuals are on a journey through life not unlike a piece of wood in water. We all come out of it differently. Deep, I know.

When we were at Big Talbot, we walked along the Shoreline Trail to what's known as Boneyard Beach. I mean, how perfect is that name? This beach was born from oak and cedar trees growing nearby falling onto the beach because of the natural erosion of surrounding dunes. These trees then become weathered and worn by the water and sun, moving and changing positions with the tide. And the way that they lay across each other all over the beach is truly show-stopping. It always takes my breath away - I could spend hours photographing each and every piece of driftwood I come across here.

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