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Posts Tagged ‘Sand Dollars’

It is no secret that my habit is beach combing. And it has become habit for me to stumble across the least expected.

And yet, they are unexpected treasures I have long looked forward to and will cherish forevermore.

Here on my beach, we are in that sweet spot on the calendar – the time when the tourists have long gone and the snowbirds haven’t yet arrived.

This is the time when sand dollars propagate and when you are most likely to find one – or several – perfectly intact.

I posted a close-up of a fresh one this summer, and shared a dream about them last winter. They keep coming up!

A random walk on the beach last weekend yielded untold wonder, magic and surprise as I gathered a handful (25, to be exact) of these beautiful lives in my palm – life, fleeting… memory, endless:

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Each one will become a tiny gift for a fragile, abused or neglected child at my hospital, with a special story of love and of being found, about how much they matter.

They are very well-blended into the shoreline (how many do you count? can you find the ghost crab?):

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Their spiny efforts to reach out and make sense of where the fate of the tide has brought them, is moving.

Isn’t that just like us, ever-reaching for life, love and pursuit of happiness, despite  our inevitable date with death?

Celebrate life even as death knocks on your door.

Carpe diem, baby.

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Thanks, God, for the puzzles and predicaments in life that cause us to pause and ponder, that force us to grow and take inventory of those things which are most important…and which ultimately draw us nearer to You. And thanks for sand dollars and all the miraculous creatures, big and small, sharing the planet. Like these little treasures, may the lost be found and cradled gently in Your hand.

To spy on others’ habits, be sure to drop by the Weekly Photo Challenge.

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Funny that WordPress just issued this challenge, in light of our find last weekend.

You see, purple flags are flying at the beach right now. That means “dangerous sea life” can be a menace to beach-goers.

Usually the purple flags warn of something mundane like jellyfish or sharks.

This week, the flags are warning us that sting rays are in abundance – and close to shore.

(This is what we will be gigging this weekend – cut fins off, peel skin off fins, filet meat off cartilage, spice up, cook & enjoy)

In order to avoid being stung by a sting ray, one must shuffle one’s feet as one walks along the sandy bottom of the sea.

Or simply swim. Or paddle board. Or whatever.

Hiding under the sand, our careful shuffling unearthed this exquisite specimen of a sand dollar:

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The top-side of the (unbroken) sand dollar. Notice its cilia skirting and coating its body and crevices. The cilia are very fragile and break off if you barely breathe within 5 feet of it. In the sunshine and out of the water, the cilia are alive, waving and moving and desperately trying to relocate the sand dollar back to the sea, causing the sun to reflect in the moistness, resembling the sparkling surface of the sea. It is a very curious sight…

 

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On the underside, notice the mouth of the sand dollar, right in the center, like a cross-stitch. The fine-haired cilia are in greater abundance on the bottom, like thousands of tiny legs. These glisten with brilliance in the summer sun, and like a tiny microcosm, reduce the bigger species to humbled awe in considering the art of survival and place in the universe.

 

As of today, I was tremendously insulted when my camera indicated its memory was FULL. And right when I was in a historically, architecturally, visually exuberant place.

Fiddle-faddle.

Thank goodness these were the last pics I took…hello, new memory card, and hopefully before tomorrow’s gig-fest.

Well, at least it lasted a good 2.5 years – that’s pretty awesome.

Part of what filled it up was trying to capture the same scene in two ways – always well worth it!

Thanks, God, for the little mysteries of life which go on even when we’re oblivious – help us always to consider the magnitude of Your omnipotence well beyond our realm of knowledge and awareness.

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Sometime in the past year, I grew accustomed to taking a Sunday afternoon nap. Like a cozy, curled up kitty, I snuggle under my favorite blankie. There my mental hot air balloon sails, untethered, into another dimension.

These Sunday siestas somehow differ from my other conk-out conventions at night, which are more like extended power naps. At night my time is limited, packed with de-fusing from crazy days and anticipating how to manage the next crazy day.

But Sundays seem like a luxury. High strung as I can be, it took me weeks to chill out and give myself permission to pause, to see the afternoon nap as holding equal or greater value to, say, that last load of laundry glaring at me from the hamper, which taunts me that it’s nearly Monday.

Or the five spots of scuffed-off front porch floor paint nagging at me to be repainted every time I cross the threshold. And I refuse to repaint it until I can locate the correct colors I need for the beach-themed floor-mural I’m planning, which very well could fail because the only colors I can find on the market for outdoor floor paint are pool-blue and gad-a-mighty-ho-hum grey. I was hoping for greens and yellows and oranges and reds. Evidently there is no market for bright outdoor porch-floor paint.

Sherwin-Williams, are you listening?!

I suppose I like to dream outside the box. Thus my brain leads me to wander on these Sunday afternoons.

Today’s nap deposited me at the greatest of beaches – it was a melding of the dramatic Pacific coastline, the serenity of the Gulf, the desertion of the Bering Sea, the charm of the Côte d’Azur and the humbling of the Atlantic. And the mind-blowing dunes of Lake Michigan thrown in, too, for good measure.

Because I rarely stay in my designated spot while at the beach, I saw a dune and climbed it. It took great effort; the sand was fine and the dune was very tall, towering hundreds of feet over me. On my way up, I gained perspective to see that the tide was coming in, bringing with it exquisite treasures below.

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Once I was high enough up, I was also able to spot some groups of shells that others before me had collected and for some reason, left behind. This was intriguing – the shells, from afar, appeared full and big, perfectly formed and in hand-sized heaps, jut waiting for someone to come along and scoop up to claim as their own treasure. Yet there was no one else in sight. Why would they leave such a lovely mound of treasure like that? I made a mental note to skibble over there after I reached my current goal to top this dune to see what had caught my eye here.

Winded and exhilarated, I reached the top and, to my astonishment, there was a perfectly round sand dollar, deposited and long-forgotten. It had some faint fissures in it – the sun was bright, I was breathing too hard and so excited, I failed to take those fissures full into account, and I reached down to pick up the sand dollar.

As my fingers curled to touch it, the fissures became more clear – it was at risk of breaking if it was disturbed.

I fancied myself capable, however, of being able to both touch and feel this fragile treasure. I would not harm it; I had a way I knew to scoop the sand underneath it to maintain its integrity. I would be able to both enjoy and protect this coveted beauty.

It would take planning to do it right, and as I rehearsed in my head how to protect, preserve and capture it as mine, the shadows shifted and my eyes were drawn to the sky. The sun was about to set beyond the biggest of dunes where the intact piles of perfect treasures lay, and below, the tide continued to wash in even more treasures which beckoned me to explore.

I had to choose whether to abandon the imperfect which demanded my bravado and risk, to see if I could make it before dark to the piles of inviting treasures much higher, or allow gravity to carry me down swiftly to the shoreline where the rising tide had provided the unknown.

Intoxicated by excessive self-assurance (or was it arrogance?), I selfishly bent down again and, conscious of the setting sun, I tried my best to cradle the fissured sand dollar.

Seemingly before I had even touched the sand around it, it fractured and was no longer whole.

The sun was now down, dusk was fully upon me, and I was already having trouble keeping sight of the treasures beyond and the treasures below.

The pieces of broken sand dollar in hand, I descended the massive dune, wondering if the intact treasures beyond would still be there come sunup, and wondering what I’d missed in the tide.

Likely, they’d be gone, forever.

Or perhaps they never really existed.

I would – simply – have to find perfection in my broken sand dollar.

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