Intentional Observation: Beach, grass

One of the things that makes the prairie the prairie are the grasses, perhaps especially here in Nebraska, in the Sandhills. Earlier this week I traveled to Florida, somewhat unexpectedly, and had some time in between activities to comb the beach.

While so combing, I wondered to myself why it is people are more likely to intentionally observe — to move slowly and pay attention — on the beach than other places. Are most beach combers retired (and other young kids, so to speak, who are on the beach jogging or surfing)? Is it that people associate the beach with relaxation? Is there something about the sound of the waves and the expanse of the water (if so, why do people find the expanse of grass on the prairies so lifeless in comparison)?


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

3 Responses to Intentional Observation: Beach, grass

  1. Sarah Jane says:

    It’s interesting how much expectations play into this. We slow down and look carefully when we’re in a place that is supposed to be beautiful or impressive. We expect the beach to be beautiful, tranquil, and inspiring, whereas we expect the prairie to be oppressive and boring. But beauty is literally inescapable — if we’re looking to find it, and be found by it.

    One of my favorite memories from this past summer was eating with a friend on the terrace of a little Thai restaurant in the mountains. We had the terrace to ourselves and a beautiful view of the sun-drenched valley, but what enthralled us most was the way the light refracted through the ice in our water glasses. I had never seen anything like it before. The server probably thought we were both stoned, but no — we’re just artists, this is what we do. 😉

  2. Tim J. says:

    “It’s interesting how much expectations play into this. We slow down and look carefully when we’re in a place that is supposed to be beautiful or impressive.”

    True. That’s why I like the whole intentional observation idea… a big part of the artist’s job, I think, is to help people to expect beauty in the ordinary.

  3. richard says:

    check out the poem: “Dover Beach” by Andrew Marvel…………
    “…….Listen! you hear the grating roar
    Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
    At their return, up the high strand,
    Begin, and cease, and then again begin,….”
    and THAT is the sumation of the beach !!!!!!!!!!!

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