Thursday, August 4, 2011

“Well-behaved women rarely make history” - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

The parking lot was recently  landscaped with washed shell fill

Y'all know I'm just crazy about shelling.  I describe myself as being coastal but some folks might describe my behavior as being a little postal. I go shelling in the rain, at night, in the freezing cold, & during tropical storms. But I never wanted to be "that woman" know, the woman doing the Sanibel Stoop in the newly landscaped parking lot islands at Target. 

Shell fill is an excellent choice of material for landscape beds. It's inexpensive & doesn't float away during the rain like a cypress mulch.  This washed shell fill comes from quarries & shell pits where it is dug up, washed, & sorted to DOT standards.  Shell fill is used  very commonly in Florida for driveways, walk ways, roads, & ground cover. It is also loaded with fossil shells. Due to our litigation-happy society most quarry owners have closed their properties to the public. Fear of being sued has slammed the gate in the faces of fossil hunters from entering the premises.  It's really too bad because it's not so much about collecting shells but recovering our ancient past.  It all tells our story.

When you look closer you'll find all kinds of shell fossils & even a few sharks teeth many?

My attention is not only diverted in the Target parking lot.  On my way out to the boat launch to go kayaking  I caught a glimpse of a big dirt pile off to the side of the road behind some dumpsters.  I never wanted to be that kind of woman either but the slope is slippery & I'm about to do a full gainer. I learned from my buddies Bro. Gee & Bro. Dubya that the best time to look for fossils in a dirt pile is right after a hard rain because all the dirt get washed off leaving the fossils, shells, & sharks teeth behind. I spent about an hour inspecting every nook & cranny for fossil goodies.  I found quite a few until the heat & cain't-see-ems chased me back into my air-conditioned vehicle.

What's that over behind the dumpster?

Keep a few gardening tools in your trunk to aid your digging

These are from a collection of the brother's finds

Ecphora quadricostata

These are assorted fossils of petrified wood, puffer fish mouth plate, an arrowhead, & a possible horse tooth.
The brothers let me borrow one of their most treasured fossils found by their grandfather.

I picked these up at the Good will for 50 cents apiece. I also use The Florida Museum of Natural History's online collection to help identify my finds.

Adding to my usually shell shovel & kayaking gear, I now carry a few excavating tools in the back of my SUV.  The DOT are digging ponds on my leg of I-75 so there are huge dirt piles everywhere.  FYI - it is trespassing to mess with the DOT's dirt & also not the safest place to go fossil hunting on the side of I-75 with humongous speeding semi's blasting by.  The thought did cross my mind to pull over, put up the hood, & fake a break-down.  I definitely don't want to be that woman (yet)