Beyond the Keyhole

Entrance Gate, Indiana Dunes State Park

Beyond the Beach is more than a tagline, more than an admonition. Beach is metaphorical – sun tans, beach balls, boom boxes and charcoaled hamburgers. Not that I am against spending a lazy weekend at the beach, but I also believe in looking (and experiencing) beyond the obvious.

Last week I spent an afternoon, just a couple of hours before sunset, ambling along the beach at Indiana Dunes State Park. My Indiana visits are usually filled with indoor meetings, and I have little chance to actually explore. After briefly birding in the woods that border the entrance road (loaded with northern breeders such as palm warblers and white-throated sparrows waiting to cross Lake Michigan), I parked in the empty lot and ambled across to the shore. The rains earlier in the day had tapered off, with residual mist obscuring the most distant views.

As I strolled I began to notice the intricate arrangements and patterns in the sand. Painters celebrate the still life, yet here nature had prepared the arrangement for me. Leaves, stones, feathers, and water combined and recombined in endlessly fascinating mosaics. A maple seed, a blackened pine cone, even charred driftwood are beautiful if caught in the right light.

Architecture, nature arranged by the hand of man, gives it own interesting patterns and designs. I walked through one of the time-worn park buildings, dating, I suppose, to the establishment of the park in the 1920s. Even in its empty halls light painted intricate details on the walls. The art deco style offered me stark geometric shapes to capture, and even the declining condition of the building provided an important subject to illustrate.

At first glance, nothing is obvious except the obvious. You must look closer to actually see.

Ted Eubanks
20 May 2010

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