The rate of flow

everything flowsI was inspired in this by a beautiful piece of writing by Donovan Hohn, which has stayed with me ever since I read it in Harper’s magazine in 2007. I think it was the thing that first got me thinking about plastic. (Hohn has written his own striking book on this topic, Moby Duck, where this passage also appears):

“I’ve begun to notice currents everywhere, a universe of eddies and gyres.  Phytoplankton ride the same ocean currents that carried the Floatees to Sitka.  Zooplankton follow the phytoplankton.  Fish follow the zooplankton.  Sea lions, whales, and people follow the fish.  When, at the end of their upriver journey, salmon spawn and die en masse, their carcasses — distributed by bears, eagles, and other scavengers — fertilize the forests that make the fog, which falls as rain, which changes the ocean’s salinity.  All deep water travels along what oceanographers call the “conveyor belt,” which begins with warm water from the Gulf Stream draining into the North Atlantic, where evaporation increases the salinity and makes it sink to the ocean floor, where it creeps south into the Antarctic circumpolar stream.  After a thousand years — a millenium! — the conveyor belt ends here, in the North Pacific, where the ancient water wells up, carrying nutrients with it.  I’m becoming a devout driftologist.  The only essential difference between rock, water, air, life, galaxies, economies, civilizations, plastics … is the rate of flow.”

fake alligator strap

plastic I collect on my daily walk


GREEN SEEDLESS TABLE GRAPES RAISINS VERTS DE TABLE SAN PÉPINS with rows of round holes for the grapes to breathe through

G SERIES THIRST QUENCHER FIERCE® GRAPE NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR Water, sucrose, dextrose, citric acid, natural and artificial flavor, salt, sodium citrate, monopotassium phosphate, modified food starch, glycerol ester of rosin, blue 1, red 40.

foam eyeball bloodshot with bright yellow iris, kind of crackling like flame or lightning

little pale green foam peanut packing thing (LPGFPPT)

white foam packing fragment

shards of Peet’s glass with sea blue vaguely Mycenaean pattern

fake alligator strap

BIMBO® Donas Sugared Donuts cartoon of white bear wearing apron and puffy chef’s hat with red B on the front seeming squeezed, almost knocked off balance between two giant donuts. Eyebrows raised and blue eyes with thick eyelashes opened wide, mouth agape, pink tongue and row of white teeth. The bear is bringing a donut bit the size of its head toward its open mouth.

Kathy Kaye™ POPCORN BALL scary moon and trees cartoon with jack o’ lanterns

tiny lychee candy wrapper


We are all the lugworm


New research demonstrates that the lowly lugworm (Arenicola marina) absorbs toxic concentrations of pollutants from microplastic in sand. Here is this piece from October in which I imagine being inside the gut of a lugworm. We all are inside the gut of a lugworm, of course, because that is the base of the food chain. Thanks to Susan Freinkel for pointing out this research.


plastic I collect on my daily walk


Hand-Scooped Ice Cream Shakes & Malts™ cup, disembodied hand with scoop of ice cream emerging from sunburst, somewhat threatening, yellow star smiling outlined in red® ©2011 CXE Restaurants, Inc.

Tootsie Roll® POP ARTIFICIAL CHERRY red wrapper cartoon of kid with fishing pole, boy playing with model airplane, ice skating girl, two surfers, boy and girl, boy swimming, kid tossing a football, back to us, two girls roller skating, a boy and girl grasping a flag and kind of bowing, boy cut off at the neck with headdress aiming an arrow at a star TOOTSIE ROLL INDUSTRIES, INC. CHICAGO, ILLINOIS MADE IN U.S.

LEAVE WORRY BEHIND jiffy lube® sticker 150568 MILES 12/2/2013 OR-491GQF PENZ 530

smashed ORGANIC BABY SPINACH 5 0z. box INGREDIENTS: organic baby spinach leaves. Distributed by the Kroger Co. Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 PET recycling symbol

A Chekhov quote on her skirt

all the plastic I collect on my daily walk


single-armed angel with white bow and a Chekhov quote on her skirt

some kind of space gun, grey, badly scraped

three clear lids found in a clump on the sidewalk

green soda bottle lid and top

purplish blue cap


HARIBO® KIDS AND GROWN-UPS LOVE IT SO, THE HAPPY WORLD OF HARIBO wrapper yellow cartoon bear with red bow saying ORIGINAL in speech bubble, fruit and flying (falling?) gummi bears at its feet GOLD-BEARS® GUMMI CANDY LESS THAN 1/2 OZ.

H-bomb ontologist

1-model-of-modern-h-bombHoward Morland, guy who released the H-bomb secret, as object oriented ontologist: “The most important impression I wanted my article to convey was that of the materiality of nuclear weapons. By describing a more or less imaginary weapon in graphic terms, I hoped to make the reader feel that he or she, or at least I, had actually seen one, inside and out. I wanted to prove with words and line drawings that nuclear weapons have size and shape. They occupy space. The parts are made by real people using real industrial equipment. They are transported, assembled, stored, and tinkered with as if they were tank turrets, machine guns, or any other military gadget.” The Secret that Exploded, (New York: Random House, 1981) 151