Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Earth's crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees, takes off his shoes - The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries. --Elizabeth Barrett Browning

New moon, low tide - I'm there. Did I mention the low tide was at 6am? Those are the best. Even the most die-hard night owl can be convinced to forgo sleeping in and rise before the sun comes up once they experience the beauty of the beach as it wakes up. 

I arrived at Blind Pass on Sanibel early Tuesday morning around 5am. It was pitch black because it was a new moon which means no moon. As I sat in my truck sipping my coffee and mentally preparing to get my shell on, my eyes gradually got used to the dark and the sky was full of stars. It was really dark because there is no enviromental lighting anywhere close.  It made the stars appear so near that I felt like I  could have reached out and touched one. Then there was a shooting star that blasted across the sky. It reminded me of a chapter from my favorite book  "The Shack" where the main character Mac is laying on a dock on a lake at night watching the stars with Jesus. They were just hanging out and taking in the wonder of creation.

 At my age I hope I never lose that wonder. The wonder of a night sky filled with stars, the wonder of a pretty shell so perfectly formed, the wonder of the bird song waking the beach up as the sun rises over the sand bar. 
I had the entire sand bar to myself until about 6:30 am then the other early birds started showing up
You could walk across the Pass if you didn't mind getting too wet - maybe next July
The tide is swirling as it changes from going out to coming back in
It was a little nippy - about 47 degrees

Scoping out the tidal pool for a Fish McMuffin

Sea Stars or Star Fish buried in the sand on the bottom of the tidal pool (hiding from that bird no doubt)

Serious shellers with tools - the shell back hoe rules
The side of the newly formed sand bar
Live tulip grabbing on to sand bar grit
About 4 feet of pure shell makes up that entire sand bar - amazing!

I left Blind Pass and drove south to my other happy place on Sanibel called Gulfside City Park. GSCP is situated in the middle of the island. Today the beach was just strewn with a line of sponges, pen shells, sea urchins, & other stinky dead sea critters.  It could be that the cold water  has caused the kill but more likely it was the stormy cold weather from last week. 
If you could stand the odor there were lots of shells under all that flotsam
Pile after pile of sea urchins
But when the beach gives you lemons -  you make a pen shell boat of course
Huge live cockles everywhere
My mom loves to wash & sort my shells