Catching the Wave

We called them skitterlings.

You know, the little birds that flock right down at the low-tide line, dabbling in the sand, and dashing away when the waves come in. They're the most obvious birds at any Oregon beach.

(Well, besides the herring and glaucous gulls that chase you across the parking lot, trying to steal your sandwich.)

(Or the thousands of cormorants nesting on the rocks, just over a stone's throw (and thankfully safe from dogs and children) off shore.)

Okay, they're the most entertaining birds on the Oregon beach, dashing down to the edge of the freshly wetted sand, digging crustaceans and then skittering away from the waves again, as if afraid to get their feet wet.

They are, in fact, called sanderlings, and I don't know why it's taken me so long to put them on pottery. Possibly because they're always too far down the beach to get a good look at. Possibly because they move to fast. Possibly just because they are always there. But this winter, I got an order from a former Washingtonian for some pottery, in particular featuring birds they missed from the Pacific shore. And so I painted sanderlings.

Note the plural. You never see them alone, it's always a flock. I put them on tall mugs, tumblers, pie and dessert plates. And if I paint them on something round, like this tool crock, I paint another flock, closer to the waves, on the other side. But if you want some, you'd better hurry.

They move fast.