i’m sick. i’m frustrated. i can’t sleep. something fun must be shared.
for the last 2 years, lise and i have joked (?) about finding “The Big One” out on the beach. we go out frequently since we moved here in august ’07 to enjoy sunsets, find shells, walk the dog, listen to the waves, eat shrimp, etc.
but “find shells” is high up on our list. i can’t psychobabble well enough to try and guess why we like our shells so much (growing up in the midwest is the best i can come up with) but doggoneit, we do. and sometimes we score with some pretty cool shells. most of the time we find more of the same old stuff.
but “The Big One” has long held a fascination for us. you know: you see these big seashells in stores down here or in seashell shops but what you find on the beach and in the water is typically smaller stuff with florida conch shells and cockle shells being the largest specimens. and don’t get me wrong – these are cool things! but being a typical boy, size seems to matter more than it ought to. lise and i have talked about how we’re gonna find The Big One at some point, and have made it a joke at the end of the evening when we DON’T find The Big One to curse Neptune loudly and vow to come back and raid & pillage his kingdom until he gives us what we desire.
the pillaging can now come to an end.
this past sunday, lise was out lunching with friends and helping with the church christmas show, leaving the dog and i to hang out together, head to school and do some work, then hit the beach for some exercise, frolicking, frisbee, and shell hunting. there had been some huge storms friday & saturday and high winds on sunday – all good conditions for finding unique shells, as these things churn up the sand and cause big waves that wash more stuff to the shore.
it was brisk out. the sand was cold. the water much warmer. the area was literally deserted on the navarre side of p-cola beach. we got out and walked a good clip to the east, finding a couple of neat shells and having a great time chasing each other around. dog got tired after a while and trotted back to the bag and sat, waiting for me to return. i decided i wanted to head up the western side a little ways just to savor the time out at the water (and who knows: maybe The Big One was lurking out there just waiting for me).
about 20 yards from where we had our stuff, there it was. a lightning whelk. one of my favorite shells. this sucker was huge. i mean, HUMONGOUS! the top was so big that it was actually sticking up out of the water!
the storms had moved the sand around and caused some areas of the shoreline to be quite shallow – maybe 4-5 inches with the tide coming in. and it was in one of these spots that The Big One sat, wide open and calling my name.
i honestly looked around to see if someone was watching with cameras or maybe there was a string tied to it (neptune?) and would yank it away before i could get it…
i walked out into the water, reaching down expecting to find that it was an incomplete shell – broken somewhere, cracked, maybe only the outer 3/4 of it intact and the inside busted up. but no! it was the whole kit and kaboodle.
i screamed. well, ok. i didn’t quite scream, but i did yell out and i looked all over to see if i could somehow share this moment with someone, but truth is, the person i wanted to share with the most was lise.
so the dog and i walked back, got a few pictures of this beast, and called my wife. at home, the ruler showed an almost 12″ long shell. i’m still surprised. doing a little homework on this shell shows an average size being around 6-8″ (and we’ve found a couple that were close to 6″).
i can now retire from the shell-hunting game. neptune has been bested and can kiss my rear.