Friday, November 4, 2011

Caligula's Plunder

Now that I'm running consistantly, I like to shake things up terrain-wise and so I try to do one morning per week on the beach. Some days the tide makes it impossible, and other days I get, well, distracted.

This morning as I filled the pocket of my sweatshirt with Neptune's dropped change, two things occured to me. First, that each visit seemed to have a different "daily special" and second that I must look like Caligula dumping my treasure onto the kitchen counter after coming home.

(Caligula was a bat-squeeze crazy Roman emperor who, legend has it, marched his army to the North Sea to do battle with the sea god Neptune. His men watched him slash his sword at the waves for hours before returning to them triumphant and declaring victory. Then he ordered them to collect the spoils, and he returned to Rome and dumped chests full of shells and sand before the Senate.)

As to the first thought, the following are examples of how the things we find tend to come in batches.

Most of the time we find tons of these long, fingernail looking things and pretty common things with a few nice specimins of others:

Then one day there will be tons of sand dollars:

Then one day there were probably a hundred horsehoe crabs (which I left, I think the night's full moon may have brought them close to shore, or maybe it was molting season) and dozens of pink sea urchins. I had to stop running so as to better carry all I found. Even after dumping a load in the car, I continued to find them by the bucketload, so I gave a bunch to my neighbor and people I saw on the beach and even mailed some to friends (I had dragged them to the beach a week before, promising beautiful things and it was a crap day for shells). So what's below isn't even 1/5th of what I actually collected. It was also a banner day for the long, tightly coiled olive shells and the near-circular spirals and bright pink polyps:

Later that particular day I took the kids and we collected even more spirals of varying shapes and sizes and the skull of some kind of fish and a piece of turtle shell. (Last year with some friends we found a dolphin scapular bone!)

Then check these big horse conchs we found- they must have weighed 10lbs each and would squirt water at us in defense:

Today was apparently scallop day, with a few olive shells and welks:

There's nothing like getting ready to move that makes you appreciate what you've had in your back yard.