On my last visit to the Puget Sound area, I had the wonderful good fortune to be there on the day that the beach side town of Oak Harbor, Washington, was having their annual Driftwood Day art competition. Oak Harbor is located on Whidbey Island, a part of the San Juan Islands chain. The event is sponsored by the Oak Harbor Arts Commission, and was started about a decade ago, to spur creativity among the participants, and increase visitation to the town's lovely Windjammer Park, located near many downtown stores.
Even the trophies awarded at the competition are expressions of "beach combing with a purpose" creativity. The prizes include High Tide Award, Neptune's Delight Award, Flotsam & Jetsam Award, and Poseidon's Prize trophy. To involve the spectators, there are also ballots provided so that guests can vote for the "People's Choice" trophy!
Spectators and participants scour the beach area looking for a "treasure" to add to their sculpture. This is similar to how hundreds of Twin Lakes area residents will be scouring the shores of Bull Shoals Lake on September 21, for the annual clean up day. ( It is not too late to sign up to participate in the Bull Shoals Lake event. Go to www.home.arkansasmasternaturalist.org calendar of events for more information ).
This driftwood diorama of a bowler and bowling lane, is the one I voted for as winner of the "People's Choice" trophy. All those who want to "officially" participate in the competition must register at the beginning, and receive their official entry flag of yellow ribbon, so that the judges will know where to look for competitors along the expansive beach.
Just as giant driftwood logs outlining the perimeter, are a signature mark of beaches in the Northwest, so the symbol of an anchor pays tribute to the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station located nearby. In fact, the commanding officer of that installation, has been known to be one of the judges!
This sculpture is a experiment in "balance", as all these pieces must be "self supporting", in that building materials cannot be brought from home.
One of the contest judges tries out a bridge constructed by one of the teams. Perhaps this is a nod to the famous Deception Pass Bridge, built by the CCC during the Great Depression, that resulted in Whidbey Island being connected to the Washington State mainland.
I foresee a future in civil engineering bridge building in the futures of these team members! It should be noted that participants cannot start early, and can only use materials in their creation, that have been washed up on the beach.
This " human-skeleton-looking-form", seems to be the reason that the giant "sea monster" has a big smile on his face, along with the remains of the skeleton's tee shirt!
This team was recreating a media room with a giant tv screen, as indicated by the girl on the "couch" holding the piece of driftwood representing the television remote control device.
The lady that created this sculpture went into great detail to tell the spectators that it represented the transformation in her life, where she gave up her bad habits ( as indicated by the discarded beer can and litter ) and replaced those bad habits with things of beauty ( as indicated by the lovely sea shells on the other side ).
When I saw this team of youngsters working on building these walls, I was reminded of a First Place 4 Health ( www.FirstPlace4Health.com ) Bible study I did on the book of Nehemiah, because it was all about "wall building". I learned that God can take the broken-down walls of our lives, and using the "driftwood" pieces that remain---along with the Holy Spirit, His Word, and other people---help us reconstruct our life into something useful. Nehemiah 4:6 says "So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their hearts." Watching this team working away, it was obvious they were working "with all their hearts"!! Taking this Driftwood Day expedition renewed my enthusiasm to be creative with the "driftwood" that surrounds me, so that I can have "MILES OF SMILES" no matter what the circumstances! Tricia