Writing Out Loud

Contrast and Complement

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On a beach walk not long ago, I came upon a rock formation that someone had constructed near the shoreline. Called a cairn, it’s an assortment of stones organized in such a way as to complement, while also contrasting with, its surroundings. Some cairns stand out insistently against their backgrounds, while others, like the one in the photo, mirrors the sea behind and around it.

Notice the smooth texture of the stones themselves, how they mimic the ocean’s fluidity both in shape and color. Look at the similarities between how effortlessly the stone’s materials seem to flow and the sea. If their edges were dulled, they’d blend perfectly with the ocean water.

As for color, notice how the second, fourth and sixth largest stones from the top pick up the blue of the sea, while the third and seventh stones continue the color from the larger rocks in the outcropping and some of the seaweed growing among them. The second and fourth largest rocks from the top also pick up some of the coloring of the sea-foam, and the very top largest stone picks up some of the pale and subtle mauve hues from other outcropping rocks.

I like to think of the bright red stone at the top as the cherry on this cake of stone layers. It provides the sharpest contrast of all, but still does manage to reflect the color found in some species of seaweed.

I have to wonder if the person who built this cairn had all this in mind, or if it was just the random product of his or her imagination. Whatever the case may be, it’s amazing how well it fits into this ocean scenery.


Author: raelove1950

I've been writing personally and professionally for over 40 years, and recently started writing books for Amazon Kindle. During the last 25 years, I have also written for the Journal Tribune in Biddeford, Maine; the Maine Sunday Telegram in Portland, Maine; Current Publishing in Westbrook, Maine; and the Reporter, a weekly newspaper based in Waterboro, Maine. I recently released a book entitled "From the Urban Wilderness: Life in the Southern Maine Woods," which is a collection of essays taken from a weekly column I wrote for the Journal Tribune from 2010 to 2016. It is available from Amazon.com and CreateSpaceStore.com .

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