Californian seas

On a recent trip to northern California, I made two stops to sate my seaweed curiosity.

'By-the-wind-sailors' at Duxbury Reef, Bolinas

‘By-the-wind-sailors’ at Duxbury Reef, Bolinas

The first was a visit to Duxbury Reef off Agate Beach in Bolinas. This is a wonderful marine conservation area of long shale reefs sheltering innumerable rock pools. My mother used to take us here at low tide to scour the pools for anemones, crabs and tiny sea creatures. This time my focus was on the flora and I was captivated by the similarities and difference to the rock pools on my doorstep in Scotland. But it was the bright blue ‘By-the-Wind-Sailors‘, a type of jelly fish which blanketed the beach, that took my breath away.

My second stop was to visit Josie Iselin, the celebrated artist and writer whose work I have long admired. I had never met her, but often look at her online gallery –  a wonderful space filled with images of the things we beachcombers love most – so I emailed her and invited myself over!

Josie Iselin in her studio

Josie Iselin in her studio

She couldn’t have been more gracious and we spent a lovely afternoon drinking tea and ruminated over all things seaweed in her sunny San Francisco house looking out over the Bay.  Her studio is filled with the pieces she has so exquisitely scanned, printed and published, and across her work tables were the pocketfuls of pebbles, shells, sea glass and driftwood that reflect her love of  all things coastal.

Josie's beachcoming treasures

Josie’s beachcombing treasures

Josie’s pictures of seaweeds are awe-inspiring; her images gloriously fresh, dancing strands of colour and light and presented beautifully in her book, An Ocean Garden. You order it from her website or, no doubt, Amazon. Inspiring!