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Posts Tagged ‘moon shell’

whelk

As a collector of seashells, I’ve always looked for the ideal specimen while walking along the shore:  a flawless shell that’s a prime example of its species.  Strong waves and stones often damage delicate shells and wear them down so that many of the ridges are worn and surfaces cracked by the time they wash up on the beach.  Yet, Rainbow Haven beach has offered up perfect moon shells and dogwhelks over the years, and I’ve found some beautiful urchins on the nearby shores of Silver Sands. 

baccaroshellsA couple of years ago, my friend Ruth brought me some shells from a trip she made back home to the south shore of Nova Scotia.  Although she included some perfect specimens, some worn shells were also part of the collection that she had beautifully arranged in a large glass jar.  When I decided to draw them one day, it was the worn shells that seemed most interesting.  One shell in particular was just a skeleton of its former self , yet it proved to be the most appealing subject of all.  It was one that I did not quickly grow tired of drawing over and over again.  Why?

Nothing is perfect, nothing lasts, and nothing is finished.  ~ Wabi sabi

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and can identify more with the worn out and frayed,  but as time goes on, it seems that the imperfect holds greater appeal to me from an aesthetic perspective.  Not just worn seashells but trees in an obvious state of decay are also more attractive, as is my gravel driveway with the grass growing up the middle.  

vinesinwinterThe vines on my house continue to cover up more and more of the ‘clean white’ siding.  Though they look gnarly in the winter, during the summer, their green leaves are so refreshingly beautiful… perhaps even more so, because I know they won’t last.  The grass withers, the flowers fade…  Would something not be lost if the grass was always green and flowers were always in full bloom?  Flower beds that are ‘still in the works’ hold the promise of new plantings and arrangements in the growing season ahead.  I know this long, cold winter will make the sun and sea breezes feel even warmer as I’m hanging the laundry on the clothesline this summer.

My favorite seashell is a small cockle with smoothly worn ridges that my oldest son picked up on the beach and gave me when he was a toddler over two decades ago.  To me, it embodies the ephemeral wonder of children and the wearing of time and the elements on all that is alive on the planet.  It also holds the promise of more days spent roaming sparkling shores in search of the perfectly imperfect specimen.

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Although winter isn’t over yet, today’s calm and sunny weather looks ideal for beachcombing.  Winter storms often seaweed-and-shellswash natural treasure in the form of seashells onto the beaches.  Some common finds at local beaches are shown at left:  a Green Sea Urchin, Blue Mussels, Sea Biscuits (a type of Sand Dollar), a small Surf Clam,  Irish Moss seaweed and a small starfish. 

There’s a large bed of Blue Mussels at nearby Rainbow Haven Beach that’s revealed only at low tide.  The tidepools are ideal places for finding some of the creatures that prey on the mussels, such as   Dogwhelks and Northern Moon Shells.  Sometimes, a Rock Crab that’s managed to hide from the hungry seagulls can also be found. 

 Many of the rocks in the mussel bed are covered with algae, making them very slippery to walk on.  Periwinkles feed on the algae and are also numerous in some spots.

moonandmermaidspurseThe carnivorous Northern Moon Shell is shown at left along with a Mermaid’s Purse, which is an egg case for a skate, a type of ray.  The hooked ends of these egg cases cling to seaweed but are sometimes loosened by the currents and washed ashore.  The moon shells are very beautiful but have become less common finds in recent years. 

Whenever I find shells with live animals still inside them, I’ll throw them back into the water.   It’s such a shame to find a pile of live molluscs dying in the parking lot, picked off the beach by children but discarded by parents prior to getting into their vehicles at the end of the day.  It might seem like a small thing, but in the summer, when so many people frequent the beaches, this thoughtless act is repeated enough times to have an effect on the fragile ecosystem.  Though live molluscs are a wonder to find, in this instance I think it would be less cruel to just love them and leave them.

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