Four of us – Claire and Simon from Monkfish Productions are our winter visiting artists – and Alfie the dog are walking back along Beadnell Beach from the estuary, shoved along the way by relentless gusts that spin and swirl the sand al’ower (a North Eastern phrase that fits the bill).
The beach is unrecognisable and desolate. It has shape-shifted over night. A layer of sand has been blown to the high heavens, excavating things buried in previous seasons.
I find a lightweight bone – I think it may be a wing section of a sea-bird though I can’t quite tell the scale – perhaps a herring gull, or one of the great black-backed gulls that are sitting out the stormy weather to the south of the estuary, quiet. The bone is polished smooth and glossy, save a row of raised notches, hooks for the muscles, perhaps.
The autumnal levy of kelp fronds and wrack bulge out of the sand like fossils-in-waiting; the sand illuminates the relief pattern of a sugar kelp blade. A plant dragged from life lies with tuberous roots, the miracle of sustenance in the sere of a sandy habitat now visible.
And with the living waste, the sea’s burden of plastic is turned loose again and I wrest a screwtop from the sand, a semi-degraded bottle attached.
Things from the sea are momentarily revealed: things we chose to ignore, things left behind us.