Nothing Beside Remains

This month’s very tardy nancyland splash page pays homage to two of my favorite things: Shelley’s sonnet “Ozymandius” and beach cleanups.

I recently became site captain for Esplanade Beach volunteer cleanups organized by Pacifica Beach Coalition, and my experience is heartfelt and mind-expanding. The image on the splash page is a fishing buoy, possibly debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami, retrieved from the beach some sixty feet below:


The part of the poem that most resonates with me:

“The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

6 thoughts on “Nothing Beside Remains

  1. Keli says:

    I had to find and read Ozymandias, which was enjoyable. Then after I viewed your splash picture, which I also found enjoyable, I had to learn if those were barnacles. I know what barnacles are of course, but had always imagined them to look similar to clams….but I was raised a freshwater girl, not a saltwater girl.

    Now I have a clear path for the day, because you’ve posted this at the perfect time. There is a footpath of an alley at the end of our block that is used by the neighborhood when walking to the market. Every year I mean to pick up trash before the area is overtaken by the Virginia creeper that grows there, but nearly every year the Virginia creeper overtakes my good intentions. Not this year!

    • Nancy Enge says:

      Worth the read, yes? It’s one of those poems I’ve committed to memory, so stark and stately, so that it can arise when I don’t know how to think about stuff. And, yay, barnacles. They colonize both animate (gray whales! and less-animate things (everything else). When living they’re slightly more clammish, but overall kind of like beaks. You’re welcome for tonight’s nightmares :)
      And, Keli. I hope your day’s alley excursions were productive! And I expect you had more than a few expressions of appreciation from your neighbors. Even if you did not, that tiny small shift of consciousness to yes! I will clean this shit up! is so powerful! And how beautiful your alley looks now. Well done, citizen.

      • Keli says:

        I did get the alley cleaned up :). I’m sure there are more candy bar wrappers and beer bottles buried under the leaves, but I thought marching through with my leaf blower would be a bit excessive, since it was early enough in the morning that my neighbors weren’t awake yet.

  2. Barbara W. says:

    Great photos, great post. Regrettably we do not enjoy your ocean vistas, but every year we have a “clean up the river” day which attracts dozens of enthusiast volunteers. I live a minute’s walk from the river, so it’s an effort close to my heart. Just once I wish we could forgo having to retrieve the ubiquitous shopping trolley stuck in the mud.

    • Nancy Enge says:

      Thanks, BW! Personally, I’m most smitten with the colors pulled out of the debris photo for the site highlight and background.
      Yay for your community riverside cleanups! Perhaps you could have a monthly — oh wait, I just remembered where you live. Perhaps monthly, from thaw to freeze? And all the other months, great raucous gatherings to celebrate your meaningful intentions? I’ll admit: your climate is a mystery :)

  3. Barbara W. says:

    Our climate does indeed seem to be one of extremes. People here do say that we have only the two seasons – eight months of bitterly cold winter followed by four months of construction. Our ‘raucous gatherings’ pretty much go on all summer as it doesn’t really get dark here in the summer months. Perhaps we need the eight months of winter to catch up with our sleep. :D

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