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.