Friday, May 14, 2010

flotsam and jetsam

Mr. Betty took my camera (gasp!) at some point last week to take a picture of some flotsam and jetsam. We had both noticed the presence of two looming cruise ships in the outer harbor. That's common in autumn, but not so common in spring. And it always results in any number of people — all ages, speaking a variety of languages — wandering around town holding maps. They don't tend to ask for assistance, though I often offer assistance, and I am not saying these visitors are flotsam and jetsam, though I guess in the broadest sense that would be accurate, as these passengers were cast off their ships in assorted ship-to-shore vessels taking them to the newly-dredged dock at Perrotti Park.

No, Mr. Betty had found some real flotsam and jetsam on that little beach beside Ann Street Pier. A tiny red life raft and a red (dead) lobster head had washed up in the weeds beside a comparatively ENORMOUS kayak. One can rent kayaks at the Ann Street Pier. And it made me wonder (after I'd considered the myriad and very weird elements of scale and alignment in the snapshot): What's the difference between flotsam and jetsam anyway??

Essentially — as I learned, and you can too, if you want, by clicking here — flotsam floats away and jetsam is jettisoned away. So does that mean that flotsam is natural and jetsam is trash?? No, not really, or not entirely, as one's shoes could float away and one could be thrown overboard (gasp!), making a lost sole flotsam and a person jetsam. And what about fishing gear?? Much flotsam and jetsam relates to fishing. And can't natural stuff be trash?? And can't trash be inadvertent?? And can't the two of them get all mixed together in ways that could never be untangled, even if you tried??

I guess that's why flotsam and jetsam are generally lumped together as a concept, not considered separately. Not that it matters; it just made me think. I also learned there's a third term, not much-discussed: "lagan" refers to flotsam and jetsam that ends up not afloat or onshore but on the bottom ...