Sunday 1 November 2009

The sea serpent of Bolinas

Is There Still A Sea Serpent Of Bolinas?

30 Years Later Man Still Convinced

Sep. 4 - KGO (KGO) -- In almost every corner of the world, wherever there is a large body of water, people, ancient and modern, have reported seeing. Well, something they can't explain; Loch Ness, Lake Champlain, Lake Oconogon, the Congo Basin, creatures not in zoology textbooks. So, why not a sea serpent on the coast of northern California, say, in Bolinas?

An odd little gathering of artists on a quiet beach in West Marin, odd in the way things can occasionally be, in Bolinas. It was a celebration of the artistic muse, that indefinable something that drives artists to do what they do. A longtime Bolinas resident organized the event on the 30th anniversary of the rather peculiar inspiration he found in a large wave. Tom D'onofrio, artist: "It was a big glassy wave and right in the wall of that wave was a dark object big like 40, 50 feet long. And I looked at him and he looked at me and my eyes must of been like that I mean it was like nothing I've ever seen. Tom D'onofrio, former Methodist minister turned one of this countries most famous master woodcarvers has never had a doubt. Desperate for some artistic catalyst, he rode his horse to a nearby beach where he and a friend saw something that still inspires, maybe even obsesses Tom. Tom D'onofrio: "It was thick and it was wide and it had lots of body to it but it wasn't a whale - that's what I first thought but it wasn't a whale because it was kind of doing like this. And it disappeared and I said what in the world is that?" Since that spiritual moment, as he calls it, the rolling, undulating form he saw in that surf appears in most everything he does. Now, Tom's insistent serpent appears on the bow of a boat decorated just for this celebration. Tom D'onofrio: "I was in the presence of something I couldn't cope with, so I went back got on my horse, went back to the studio filled with this energy, this came to me to get this piece finished. I am going to loose this energy man, and I am going to finish this piece and I carved for 4 days I never came out except to eat." Tom and his serpent have received a lot of attention over the years; the cover of national geographic, numerous magazine articles and two years ago in a documentary on the national geographic channel.

23 years ago, on this very channel, I did a short news story on Tom. I've changed. Tom's changed, but the story hasn't. Tom D'onofrio: "Just undulating like this riding in the waves it would disappear and reappear." Of course, National Geographic did a fine job explaining Tom's creature in a scientific, far from spiritual way. Tom still politely insists he saw what he saw, and that conviction has driven his art ever since, and who are we to deny another human beings eyes or the work his experience inspired. Tom D'onofrio: "It's affected everything I've done since then." Of course, we rational people dismiss all of this despite Tom D'onofrio's good humor. We figure a certain illicit substance most have been involved. But, admit it, deep down we'd all like to think he really did see something that day, 30 years ago

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