Poet, Playwright, Workshop Facilitator
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Welcome to daily nature photo and creative writing blog, #NewThisDay

Welcome to my daily nature photo blog

Writing from My Photo Stream ~ Kelly DuMar


#NewThisDay Writing From My Photo Stream

Lightning Whelk

Lightning Whelk

Shore Birds

Shore Birds

Julie the shell picker has long gray hair that glistens in the sunshine like a silver shell. I meet her this morning walking the Gulf while I’m kneeling in the sand on the edge of the surf to pick up a shell.

What did you find? she asks in her friendly tone, with her bright purple netted bag dangling from her shoulder, She’s wearing a cotton beach dress, sleeveless and white, splashed with extra large screen printed shells in black.

I don’t know! I turn it over in my hand to show her both sides of the shell.

Oh, it’s a beautiful find, she says. Except – this is alive

Oh, well I won’t keep it then – I say. But she’s already busy with her fingernail, prying off the tiny live creature she’s spotted that has attached itself to the shell; it’s almost transparent, like a round sticker the size and shape of a quarter. She tosses the creature back into the sea and returns the shell to my hand.

It’s a lightning whelk, she says. That’s when I ask her name. Julie walks this beach every day like me. I’m certain now I’ll spot her easily in her seashell dress with her silver shell hair. Now I know her name and she knows mine and she knows the names of the shells.

Why extraordinary?

What makes this whelk special? Unlike virtually every snail in the world, Marquardt says, it opens to the left, not the right. (Left-opening snails are called sinistral). When viewed from the top of the spire, tracing the whorl from the outer lip to the center, it runs clockwise, not the more common counter-clockwise.

“It wasn’t just a handy shell you could carve something on or use as a container. Part of its importance is that with this particular species, it opens to the left or spirals to the right—that’s very special.”

Marquardt ties the shell’s clockwise “movement” winding up in the interior of the shell to the east-motion movement of the sun, which has long signified light to darkness, and birth to death, in native beliefs, a concept so crucial it is reflected in dancing ceremonies, hut construction, the seating of tribal elders and more.
— From an article by Cathy Chestnut: https://www.news-press.com/story/life/outdoors/2015/07/18/lightning-whelk-calusa-bailey-matthews-museum-bill-marquardt-jose-leal-tropicalia/30299339/
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