we’re in the season for big clouds and sunsets even more spectacular than usual. tonight we took big dog out for a 3 hour stroll on pensacola beach.
the way the sky changes so quickly and gives so many colors, shapes, hues, and focal points – it never ceases to amaze us.
there was a large cloud front moving in from the north – watching the sunset BEHIND that – it was multiple layer sunset goodness!
while we were sloshing around in the water, lise made a killer shell find – a large 3″ alphabet cone!
this is only the 2nd one we’ve found even close to the 3″ range – quite a find, let me tell you!
after a particularly strange day at school, this was a good way to end it: together, everyone happy, relaxed, and ready to come home and crash.
speaking of which…
a couple weeks ago we were out on the beach early one sunday morning. it was warm and the water was nice. we had the dog with us and were walking up and down the gulf when we happened upon a section of beach with a LOT of shells in the water.
as we walked around, lise got into the water just a bit and was finding a lot of the same old stuff.
and then she yelled. LOUD.
she had found a Tortuga’s Banded Tulip, intact, and a little over 3″ long. an amazing find!
this is one of those “holy grail” shells for us. we’ve seen very small ones, and have been teased with hundreds of “pieces” of this shell. it’s very thin and delicate, so when they do actually make it to the shore, they’re typically beaten and crunched against the sand and other shells by waves, broken into pieces.
needless to say, this was a very neat find!
…but without the wall
Â lise and i collect seashells. lots of them. compulsively collect them. for 2+ years now, we’ve collected shells and shell pieces and have hoarded them in boxes and drawers and bags. we give many of them away, but dang, we just have too many shells.
a month or so ago, lise said to me, “let’s go through all our shells and take most of them back.” “BACK?!?” i said incredulously. “yes. back,” was her reply. and in the ensuing weeks, we went through all our shells, held back the ones we enjoyed the most (there were a lot of those) and made plans for exactly how we were going to return the others.
a mural. a sculpture. a sand-painting with shells. this would be the best way to return them: make art!
so two weeks ago, we hauled 2 years worth (maybe just under 100 lbs?) of shells to pensacola beach and began creating.
we picked a deserted spot, chose the best location and we got to work.
we had sketched out a sun design on paper before we arrived…
and the trick was keeping it even. we didn’t want the aesthetic ruined by sections off-kilter or too many shells clumped together in one spot. we didn’t want it to be TOO symmetrical or normal looking, though. the sun was retreating fast, so we had to double-up our efforts. things worked out perfectly, and we finished in about 45 minutes.
what took two years to collect were planned and laid out in just under an hour to the backdrop of a gorgeous sunset. it was a triumphant moment when we stood back and looked at our finished art project.
i honestly thought i’d feel sad about letting all those shells go, but it was such a fun thing. we really enjoyed ourselves and spent a good amount of time talking about what folks would think as they came upon this creation later. speculation, creation, satisfaction, companionship – it was all there.
we hung out for a bit, watched the sunset fade to black, and headed home…
and began planning our next big seashell art project!
the past two days have been wild ones in the hunt for seashells. something’s happened with the tide or the season or…? because we’re finding things we’ve not found since last year and in such abundance that we’re standing around scratching our heads (until we bend over to pick up another one).
the unofficial tally looks a bit like this:
- lightning whelks – 15
- nutmegs – 7
- scotch bonnets – 7
- banded tulip – 1.5
- whole sand dollars – 11
- florida cones – 14
- florida fighting conchs – 10
- lettered olives – 50
- rare cream-colored olive – 1
the thing was just lying in the sand on the beach and it was SO bright red that i walked past it, basically ignoring it and assuming it was a piece of fabric or plastic.
closer examination revealed it’s shelly nature and of course a brief dance of joy ensued. that made my day.
they’re rare to find and especially rare on the beach.
strange tides bring in strange shells!
she did it.
she found the proverbial “big one” – The Shell.
after my finding of The Other Big One back in december, lise’s pitched a bit of a fit that she’s not had the same luck. but last week, we hit the beach and there it was.
we had walked a ways down the beach together until at some point i decided to go back to the chairs and sit, watch the sunset and listen to the waves. lise trudged on, deciding to get in the chilly water and wade around a bit.
and that’s where she saw it. the top half of a large lightning whelk sticking up from the sand maybe 4′ from the shore. as she recounted the story, she said, “i saw it and i thought to myself, ‘oh, please let it be a whole one, not a broken one!’ as she pulled it out of the sand she let out a loud “YES!!” and bounded out of the water to examine her find.
it’s a nice one, too. where mine is 12″ and quite faded (not from the sun but because when they get to that size, the color becomes more of a flat cream with less pronounced ridges), hers is 7″ and full of colors and textured ridges! it’s a real beauty and is now proudly displayed as one half of the two Big Ones.
will this end her quest for another big one as it did mine?
probably not. who says chicks don’t care about size?