The theory of relativity according to driftwood

I’ve discovered another theory of relativity to add to Einstein’s ones. Or maybe it’s a matter of physics? Whatever. My discovery, based on first-hand experience, is that a piece of driftwood lying on the beach looks a lot smaller lying there, than it feels when it’s picked up and in your hand.

Today started off fabulously sunny – a treat as we start coming out of Winter, although we’re not quite officially in Spring, yet – so I took a couple of hours off work to go for a beach walk. Spontaneity and flexibility are the perks of working from home. I didn’t time my walk very well, though, as the tide had only just started going out, so I had to walk on soft sand. Definitely a tad more exertion required for that than walking on the firmer sand once the tide has retreated, and definitely slower progress.

It’s a wild beach in some ways. Not as far as the waves go, but it throws up a lot of driftwood. There’s none of the beautiful pristine sandy beach stuff of travel pics here. It’s messy and not altogether well-behaved. Quite why I decided that this particular piece of driftwood amongst the vast assortment of other pieces there was just the thing for me to take home, is a mystery that shall probably stay in that moment forever.

Although, it does look a little like a sea creature to my eyes, which is why it particularly caught my eye. However, there are many wonderful pieces of driftwood along this beach that conjure up visual fantasies, so why this one on this day? After a brief flicker of speculation, I decided it was not really the stuff of ‘need to know’, so I set the speculation adrift (see what I did there 🙂 )

When I picked it up, I immediately realised that the beach had tricked me as to its size and weight. It had rather a bit more heft to it than it looked when it was lying there in the sand looking all interesting and smaller, relative to the beach. The smart thing to have done would have been to leave it there. The next smartest thing to do would have been to leave it there, and pick it up on my way back. I did neither. My plan was to walk back along the track that runs along the top of the sandhills, rather than walking back through the soft sand, so I womaned-up and lugged it along with me.

As far as what was the harder of the two options, in the end there wasn’t much in it. By the time I walked up and down along the top of the sandhills lugging my mysterious sea creature, I reckoned it was as much effort as walking back through soft sand lugging my mysterious sea creature. But the small struggle was worth it – and I’m sticking to that version.

When I got it home, I placed it in the driveway outside my flat, where bland and boring are the dominant themes. Intentionally so, I must say, for ease of maintenance. On an imaginative day it could be my gate guardian, or just a piece of driftwood in the driveway on another day. I also discovered another trick of relativity – it looks smaller in the photo.

I could have put it somewhere inside my fenced yard, but I also can’t resist seeing how long it stays where it is. I live in an area of ‘mixed fortunes’ which runs the gamut from social housing to some beautiful well-maintained older homes. My flat is on a busy road and is the front one of three. When Scott the builder¹ was renovating it and landscaping the yard, he had three old hoses stolen from the driveway which he left there attached to the outdoor tap (at that stage there wasn’t an outdoor tap inside the yard) rather than take them home with him each day. He wasn’t especially worried, as the hoses were on their last legs anyway, but he thought it was amusing that even manky old hoses got stolen if they were left out for passersby to see. On this basis, I’m wondering how long my mysterious sea creature will last out there – and not just because it’s now been landed.

If someone really feels the need to take it, they can have it. Plenty more where that came from, and more fun to be had getting them.

Today, the Taliban also took Kabul. I think how Afghani women’s lives will be under their rule, just when they were starting to get lives again after the last Taliban takeover. It gives me chills. And makes me so very humbly grateful that I live somewhere where I can do, and write about, frivolous and unimportant things. True freedom.

¹ Scott the builder – A B’Old Woman (

4 thoughts on “The theory of relativity according to driftwood

  1. I love a piece of bleached, old driftwood in a garden, especially one where there’s a beach/forest theme set up. I just found out however that collecting driftwood is against the law, at least in California state parks. I get that there are too many people who just help themselves to everything not nailed down on the beaches—rocks, shells, even sand—but given that after the tide has gone down, especially after a storm, there’s usually a good pile of driftwood and other jetsam left. Anyway, enjoy your lovely piece of driftwood!

    Someone told me old garden hoses are stolen and cut up to be used on bongs. (I laughed the first time I heard this, but apparently it’s a thing, as the youth says.) They’re also used to siphon gas out of cars, which you see more often when the price of gas goes up, as it has out here recently. It’s annoying if it happens frequently—my parents had their garden hoses stolen multiple times, until my brother got a German Shepherd for them—so I hope your hose thief is just a one off and not a repeat offender.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, that’s an enlightening bit of info about the hoses. Makes sense, because why else go to the bother of stealing a manky old hose, even though it wouldn’t have been hard to do. Thank you 😊

      Now that you’ve said that about it being illegal to take driftwood from California state parks, I’ll have to investigate if any similar laws apply here. It never occurred to me before now – lol!


  2. lettersquash

    The beastie reminds me of something, but I can’t quite remember what it is – from sci-fi or real life? It has shades of spider crab, and a resemblence to the craft in War of the Worlds…but it’s something else…if it’s not there later, it might have crawled away back to the sea.

    Yes, relativity of visual perspective and a final segue into the relativity of personal perspective, all the more impressive for being brief. I’m not sure if that was your intention, but it spoke to me that way. It’s hard to find words to utter about Afghanistan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha – I’ll keep that in mind if “the beastie” disappears – lol!
      Yes, my theory of relativity is a lot simpler and shorter than Einstein’s. I might have been able to teach him a thing or two about keeping it brief, if he was still around.
      I don’t really know what to say about Afghanistan, either – it’s horrendous, but at the same that’s not descriptive enough.


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