Wednesday, August 15, 2012
I still collect shells and anticipate the day when my parents finally tell me I can have the collection from the Phillipines. The shells start their lives in the water, the ocean I still love so much, and I can remember my parents bringing them to the surface.
The most dangerous ones were the Cone shells, beautiful but deadly in their sting. My father was once involved in trying to save one of the local village children after she had gotten stung, but knowing there was nothing he could do. I cried a lot for that little girl that was close to my age. My parents clung to me much harder those first few days afterward. The first time we went back, they were very protective of me going near the water. I guess that witnessing first hand what these lovely beauties could do made both my parents but especially my father realize how close I had come to death. I received many lessons afterward on identifying the deadly ones, but most of the time, I simply steered clear of the cone shaped ones. I would tell an adult when I found one, and they would remove them from the water.
There are dozens of shells, colorful and plain, fragile and hard as rocks. They all succumbed to the ant bed that my mother placed them in out by the back of the house. Those ants ate well, cleaning every shell so carefully they barely needed washing when we dug them up 2 weeks later after giving the ants another free meal nearby. We then displayed them in our home along with our fish caught wild and brought home to our tank. The shells had their own shelf along with the glass animals my parents collected at the base Commissary. I can remember dusting each shell carefully over the years before placing them back on the shelf that they were displayed upon. My father had spent hours researching the proper names for these beautiful gifts from the sea~giving them both the scientific and common names. He would carefully scotch tape these painstakingly hand lettered papers to their undersides. This is the old school scotch tape, the kind that deteriorates with age, both yellowing and losing it's grip with the surface it was originally adhered upon.
Wonderful memories from the sea continue to haunt me to this day, giving me a knowledge and love for the ocean that continues to this day. The shells remain in a box, carefully wrapped in tissues and paper, waiting for the day that they get to see the light again.
"Nautilus" 6 x 6 acrylic on canvas