Monday, January 14, 2013

“No matter how dark the night, somehow the sun rises once again and all shadows are chased away” ~ from lyrics by David Matthews

The day breaks revealing a busy morning of shelling at Blind Pass on Sanibel/Captiva.

Can you remember being a kid and playing a game of  hide & go seek?  The best hiding place was always a closet.  As you sat in the closet being quiet and trying not to be found did you ever try to see your hand in front of your face?  That is dark.  If you are at Blind Pass on Sanibel/Captiva at 5am it's called "pitch black".  The 5:45am lowest minus tide of 2013 coincided with a new moon which means no moon - no light at all except for the hundred's of thousands of incandescent stars glowing across the sky.  As we stood in the empty parking lot of Turner Beach gearing up for our shelling expedition on the beach below our eyes slowly became accustomed to the early morning pre-dawn sky and the outlines of shell piles started coming into view.  

My strategy for being the first one on the early morning  beach is to do a quick scan the shoreline for anything big and anything speckled brown & white.  After my initial fly by I go back for the serious re-con shelling. Joining me was  my new shell sistah Jenonia & niece Pookie. Armed with her new LED flashlight, Jenonia nimbly climbed over the jetty rocks and headed for the shell line.  This Sanibel January morning was like a summer day to this Wisconsin native.  It was already decided that in the pursuit of the goodie shells water or waves were no object.  Fueled by a bottle of Dr. Pepper, a very wide awake Pookie headed to her favorite spot under the bridge.  

The morning looked promising but it wasn't long before a parade of flickering headlamps and flashlights joined us on the sand bar of Blind Pass.  The minus -1.1 lowest tide of 2013 word had gotten out on the shelling grapevine (probably by some big mouthed blogger ;D )  By 6am I counted 30 fellow beach combers lining the pass with various shelling apparatus's. Some were digging with sand flea rakes. Others had hand-held garden tools to dig through the shells piled up around the bases of the jetty rocks.  Jenonia's method was to walk in the waist deep water on the sand bar and feel for shells with her toes & retrieve them with her shell shovel. As the tide turned and the water in the pass started to rise higher, our shelling window at Blind Pass started to close.  But.... the tide is an hour behind at the south end of the island so it's still low tide there. To be continued.

A good flashlight or headlamp are the the essential tool for night shelling.

Jenonia brought along her new LED flashlight for her first night shelling excursion.

Night shellers lining the pass at daybreak.

With our unseasonably warm January the Florida morning was perfect weather to get out in the water and walk the sand bar.

This recent Florida transplant from Wisconsin has jumped into the deep end of shelling feet first.

Jenonia's first nice find - a flat.  It's actually half of a bi-valve. It could be a zig zag or Raveneli scallop (to be determined).

Pookie crossed the bridge to check out the Sanibel side.

Pookie's shell bucket is getting some treasures in it.

Good shelling is always fueled with caffeine products.  Jenonia & Pookie take a breather. Did we really get up at 2 am?  You bet we did!

Stay tuned for more of our 1/11 minus -1.1 low tide shelling day.