We currently have some icebergs grounded near Fort Amherst I decided to walk over there and take a picture of them before they break up and melt. On the way up the path to the lighthouse I saw a suction cutter dredging vessel coming in. It’s name got me thinking of the complex interplay between design and serendipity that we call beauty.
St. John’s harbour is guarded by majestic, steep sandstone hills.
The small sheltered passage you go through is called, appropriately, the narrows.
Harbour pilots mostly bring the ocean-going ships in through
the sheer cliffs, steering skillfully and straight, their paths resembling arrows.
So on the way to Amherst to see a few grounded bergs
it was no surprise to see the pilot boat steaming in.
But then when I saw its charge, chugging along, just a bit behind
its ironic name gave me cause to grin.
A suction cutter is built to shape the harbour bottom to meet a particular need
but no thought goes in to making beauty a part of its design.
How Ironic to be named for one known as a master of paint and stone!
Ugly; squat and asymmetric; covered in rust caused by meeting of steel and brine.
Then cresting the hill by the lighthouse, crafted beauty in mind
I was greeted by a sight you do not see every day.
Some objects laid there by humanity, others through nature’s hand.
A complex web of beauty, where design and chaos interplay.
The bergs are constantly eroding. Not only are they melting away, but, from time to time whole pieces will crack and slide off leaving an angular appearance. Bergs can even founder; roll right over. It’s not a good idea to get close to them at all.
That reminds me of two pairs of words that are often misused:
- Founder vs. Flounder. It is correct to say that a ship or an iceberg founders, meaning it capsizes, rolls over or sinks. People often incorrectly say “flounder.” That’s a flatfish; despite the odd shape, they’re pretty graceful in their own way; no rolling or capsizing! It’s worth noting that the misuse is becoming so prevalent it’s approaching legitimacy. Languages evolve; new meanings are adopted.
- Scuttle vs. Scupper. To scuttle a vessel means to intentionally sink it. In wartime you’d do this to prevent an enemy from using it. In peacetime you’d do this to fraudulently claim the insurance. These days it’s come to mean much the same thing as performing an act of sabotage. People often substitute the word “scupper” incorrectly, though, as in, “Oh, they’re going to scupper that deal.” intending to metaphorically state they’re intentionally going to end it. To bad it’s just plain wrong. A scupper is a nautical term, yes, but it refers to the opening on the side of the deck that lets excess water run off; thus keeping the vessel from foundering. Ironic, eh?
So then, I thought as I continued on my way
maybe the beauty is in what it does, not how it seems.
Leo the first had his tools to sculpt and paint
and Leo the second, powerful motors and cutters set out on beams.
Leo the first had brushes and paint on canvas or chisels on stone
Leo the second, too, has tools that suit his needs
and each, in its own way fashions beauty by design–
marvelous works; no matter whether spawned by love, avarice or greed.
But still, for me the greatest beauty of all–
that which leaves us breathless, filled with wonder and awe
seems to be where design and nature meet;
transient works; fusion of thought and nature’s many laws.
Still no whales 😦