During the Spring of 1986 while I was on an around-the-world solo back packing trip, I traveled to Normandy, France. I wanted to walk the length of the Normandy Beaches site of the Longest Day.
After staying in a youth hostel next to a British War Cemetery, and viewing the Bayeux Tapestry, I caught the bus to Port en Bessin, where I began my walk along the beach toward Omaha Beach. It seemed a long jaunt (4 miles) with a 60 pound back pack, below the cliffs. It was low tide, and the reef-like rocks exposed many tide pools.
I thought to myself; this is a battleground, and this is where young men put their lives on the line, and payed dearly with their youth, and life, so I could walk there as a free man, that day.
There were ghosts. One could still see some remnants; like the Mulberries (Artificial Concrete Harbors) off shore. I could see the signs where heavy machinery, probably tanks, (Tank you, Leonardo da Vinci), which had crushed the rocks, scarring the Earth beneath their treads. Their "Footprints" made it easier to imagine just what had happened there; the turmoil, the pathos, the horrors of war. It felt like I'd entered some strange dimension, like I'd been there before- as a witness.
I was feeling the vibes.
Walking along I came across a tide pool. In the middle of the pool I saw an upwelling of water surging upward. Kneeling down, I tasted it and was amazed to find it was fresh water. Then, I looked deeper into in the bottom of the tide pool. I saw this brown object laying there. I reached down, into the pool and picked up this rusted-out 40 millimeter warhead.
I was STOKED!! This was my first and only Battlefield find. It weighed about four pounds and was rusted out, and hollow (which is a good thing). Only encrustations and barnacles were growing inside.
I carried this "Dud" into a pub in St. Mere Eglise and showed it to a French bar-keep, who scurried out of the room yelling, "Merde!" After her reaction, I made the decision to wrap it up in a sock and stow it back in my pack. I carried this relic on my back for the rest of my journey; throughout the Middle East, Far East and the land down under.
That night, I slept out on the bluffs of Colville Sur Mer overlooking Omaha Beach; hardly a trace of D-Day- the Longest Day remained. However, I knew out there underneath the waves, there is still more evidence to uncover if one were to dig a little deeper.
That's the artist's job, to dig deep; pay attention to detail, get to the configuration of his motif and manifest in his medium the deeper mood which moves him.