July 19, 2011

Beauty in Everything. aka Not Mosquitos

To clarify, I haven't found the beauty in mosquitoes, nor do I find them particularly ugly, but this post is not about mosquitoes as previously threatened.

It is about where I am right now, the oil sands of Alberta. If you've never been here, it's pretty hard to imagine. I'm not going to say impossible to describe because I consider myself a writer, so here I go, try to imagine...

Think of a desert. Sand endless running in beautiful dunes with the odd shrub clinging to its blowing soil. It's not like that.

Imagine a three year-old's sandbox. One filled with little cat turds and other feces with sand stuck to it. There... that's bitumen. Now imagine the three year-old with his scoop, shuffling out the sand into his pail. That's a wheel scoop dumping into a haul-truck. Then he lifts his bucket and it's actually a sieve; all the sand falls out - except the turd. It's stuck in the bottom of the bucket and he's grinning at his find. Yep, that's the extraction. Okay it's a LOT dirtier than that, but still, that's the 'gold' they're digging for. So now you have a black nugget, a pile of sand and a big hole. Yep, that's what it looks like. Oh, let's have the three year-old get some shiny metal toys... maybe they aren't really toys, they're his Dad's tools that he stuck in the background. Then kick up some wind to blow in front.... there, that's the extraction plant as the sand obscures it. Only there's a slightly smudgy smoke coming from the top of the one I see.

Wait! I forgot the water!! What kid doesn't have water in his sandbox? Yep he builds up a nice round basin and pours the water in. There's a settling pond. This pond is probably about a third of the sandbox. Maybe Dad helped him make it.

Sounds really aesthetically pleasing, doesn't it? Especially when you add that slightly oily film to the top of the water... oh yeah, beautiful.

But... there is beauty in odd places and times. There are the sandhill cranes that fly over and nest in the tailings sand. There is the sunrise reflected in that pool when it's completely still. There is sun reflecting off that plant in the distance when the wind isn't blowing, making it shine and sparkle.

The point of my post is beauty can be found anywhere. When writing a twisted mutant or alien, I'm going to give him a dash of debonair. When I describe the most ugly urban setting where the worst deeds are done, I'm going to give one spot of shine to it.

The opposite is also true. The hero is going to have a blemish that he tries to hide. The castle is going to have one room that has cracks in the walls or ceiling.

Just as, when I escape that completely destroyed and unmade landscape and go to somewhere virtually untouched, I will find a beer can or a shotgun shell. Nothing is perfect. Nothing is black or white. Everything has a touch of both. That's what makes it interesting.


  1. What are your tasks there, Kim? Do you take air & soil samples to check for contamination? Plant life checks?

  2. You're feeling rather reflective and poetic today. I know oil on water is bad, but it also draws me in. The rainbows that dance and shimmer across the surface always entrance me.

  3. LOL Kim! Glad to be back!