December 19, 2011

Splendor from the Sea



The small wonders of the natural world with which I'm familiar here in northern Vermont are mosses and lichen and fungi, with an occasional charming little snail. The shells of land snails are very plain and workaday, though, compared with their mollusc cousins from the sea.




This vivid collection of seashells looked like a treasure chest that had been emptied on a Brooklyn dining room table. My sister and her husband had been to Sanibel Island, famous for the mounds of shells found on its beaches, shells of all different types, colors and shapes.






I love seeing the geometry of the spiral forms of what I believe are whelk shells. Bands of color flow down and across the shells, according to the mathematical Fibonacci Spiral.




Conch shells also display the spiral construction. It's a marvelous mystery to me that nature has an underlying rational order.






Cockle shells come in a beautiful array of colors, with patterns that look as though they were carefully painted in order to heighten the effect of the crisp corrugation.




I never knew that seashells came in plaid. What a delight these coquinas shells are!




Finally, some very delicate shells, irregular in form, glistening like mother of pearl, with pools of yellow or pink. Looking at all these shells, noticing each variation in color and shape, was like going on a surprising trip to a new and unknown world, full of delight.

11 comments:

  1. I never grow tired of looking at the miniature world contained in every shell. I have a chest in my studio where I put them all, and reaching in you never know what you'll pull out. Evocatives, that's what they are for me. Thanks for this post Altoon.

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  2. A beautiful collection; is your sister doing any sailor valentines or shell craft? I've done a little of it, and would love to have some time to get back to it. I must see Sanibel Island sometime, and I'd love to attend the shell show down there one day too, I hear it is spectacular.

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  3. I'm glad you enjoyed this, slowmuse and Mona. It seems that shells are evocative for many. My sister has a large glass jar full of small shells and bowls with larger ones; she doesn't do any crafts with them, just enjoys their presence.

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  4. These are so familiar. When I was a little kid we spent several family vacations on Sanibel Island.I don't know where our collection eventually wound up, but as a kid I spent hours playing with the shells.They really are beautiful.

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  5. Did you notice that the whelks are sinestral, left-hand?
    I discovered this as a kid...drawing seashells one time, I wondered why I always drew univalves the same way. I learned that most ate right-hand 'thread'.
    Then, on Sanibel, I learned about the lightning whelk, one of the world's few predominantly left-hand shells. (I was on Sanibel when Agnes hit. 1972 The eye went right over us...sun came out...birds began to sing...then the wind started to blow THE OTHER WAY!)

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    Replies
    1. I had no idea about the direction of the spirals. Wow, being there during a hurricane must have been amazing and frightening.

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    2. Young and dumb (as opposed to my current old and dumb) I went swimming in it! It was like diving into wet cement...there was so much sand churned-up.

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  6. https://www.flickr.com/photos/wfsumedia/7296070848/

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    1. It's great to see the creature in the shell, thanks.

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    2. That proboscis or whatever...sure didn't see that coming!
      I thought you'd like that.
      How would a texter put it? YAW? No, probably URW.

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