To Find a Seashell is to Discover a World of Imagination........
I love shells…...big shells, little shells, white shells, pink shells - they all tell a story, and I am always dying to listen to it. The way they weather tells us of their journey, much like the laugh lines on our faces. I want to know what they are, what they were, and who lived there.
When the Eastern Shore became my home, her waters and every creature in them suddenly became mine. I wanted to explore them, discover them, nurture them, and protect them. I made myself a promise that if I found something and didn’t know what it was, I’d find out.
Our recent run in with Storm Jonas has left us with seashells - everywhere! Shells that we usually find only on our boating adventures have washed up on our beautiful beaches, making themselves available for everyone to love - what a wonderful gift from that Beast.
Shelling leaves us with a gift even greater than the shells themselves. It leaves us with the memories we make looking for them, whether it be with our loved ones, or in sweet moments of solitude on our peaceful shores. I look around my home, filled with so many treasures I’ve found here and reflect on these moments…..with my husband, with my boys, or by myself. These memories makes them more valuable to me than the finest diamond.
The beauty we all seem to get most excited about is the Whelk, often confused with the Conch - and not nearly as tasty, trust me - although they are edible. Whelks, like Conchs, are Sea Snails, but Conchs are herbivores, while our Whelks are carnivores and scavengers. They vary in color from grayish white to tan and can actually live up to 15 years - think about that the next time you pick one up!
Three gorgeous varieties live here on the Shore - the Knobbed Whelk, the Channeled Whelk and the Lightning Whelk. They all make for an interesting find, but the Lightning Whelk is the only one with a left-handed whorl - a true southpaw - making it pretty awesome to find! I see you lining your shells up now to see if you have one…..I know I did!
We usually find Whelks alive as the tide rolls out, and love to let them “squirt” our ever curious boxer Brinks. He falls for it every time. They do this as a defense mechanism and also just to clean out their siphon. If they’re alive, please allow them to stay that way - they will give us their beauty soon enough.
You can tell if they are alive by gently touching their operculum - the hard plate on the bottom; they will close it like a trap door when tickled! Return it safely to water below the tide line, and don’t let your dog didn’t see where you put it - trust me on this one, too!
And as we have seen with Jonas, Mother Nature occasionally decides to toss a few our way - sure, she can be moody, but obviously has a soft spot.
“Seashells remind us that every passing life leaves something beautiful behind”.....