After my most recent blog post, people were asking me about the shells I found along the eastern shoreline of Lake Okeechobee. My mother even shared a rare visit to her collection-closet revealing a huge ten-inch Busycon contrarium ~also known as a whelk. She brushed the dust off the amazing “fossil.” On it, a shiny pink ribbon held a note that read:
“This Busycon contrarium blank was purchased from Lottie Huff a Seminole at the Brighton Reservation. She had a little craft store on highway 721 that runs through the reservation from State Road 70 to State Road 78. Her husband Stanley found it in some material dug up by heavy equipment. She had cleaned it up. 7/3/95.”
Then she emailed me: “So are those shells in Lake Okeechobee from the years when the ocean covered Florida, like the shark teeth found in today’s freshwater creeks and streams?”
I did not know. I do not know. I started researching and I still don’t know!
Florida is an amazing place with so much history. Now if only I can get answers about those shells I found! Do you know the answer? Please write me if you do. I will continue the hunt myself, but in the meanwhile, let’s admire my mother‘s incredible busycon contrarium!
As many people along Florida’s east coast, last Tuesday, I was completely prepared for record-breaking, Category 5 Hurricane Irma, to take my house away. She didn’t, but she did others, and the stress for citizens across our state, powerless, stuck in traffic, flooded, schedules off, schools closed, not able to work and create income, with downed vegetation strewn everywhere, is tremendous. It has been widely reported that at one point two-thirds of the state was without power; Irma’s evacuation could be the largest in United State’s history.
Yesterday, after a week in “hurricaneville,” I decided to drive north to the beach to clear my head, calm my nerves, and regroup, as I have many times in my fifty-three years here in Martin County. The beach was full of people, people I did not know. Children ran in the waves shrieking with joy as their exhausted parents held each other silently. As I walked by each family, couple, or person, I wondered what they had been through the past week. And here, we had all come to the edge of the sea, where just days ago nature’s wrath raged taking away the expensive restored beach sands, taking away the control we fight so hard to hold on to.
Just north of Jensen Beach, it was like old times when I myself was a kid. Shells were everywhere! A blanket of coquina underneath my feet. I picked up a large, perfect lightning whelk marveling at its beauty. “Look at that spiral…” I thought to myself. ” How peculiar, It looks just like the eye and bands of the hurricane…” a pattern in Nature, I had forgotten about.
For a few minutes, I was transported. I collected many shells, choosing the most beautiful with the best spirals. It got me thinking about words Ernie Lyons wrote years ago, about how we become like moles living underground and forget what a miraculous world it really is…even when the stresses of the world are great.
“What a Wonderful World”
I get an indescribable “lift” from the habit of appreciating life.
All of us, even the most harried, have moments when we are fleetingly aware of the glory that surrounds us. Like moles that occasionally break throughout their tunnels, we infrequently catch a glimpse of the natural beauty and awesome majesty outside the corridor within which we have bound ourselves.
And pop back into our holes!
The habit of appreciation—–the cultivation of the sense of awareness—are forgotten roads to enrichment of personal experience. Not money in the bank, or real estate, or houses, or the exercise of power are true riches. By the true tally, the only value is “how much do you enjoy life?”
All around each of us are the wonders of creation—the shining sun, a living star bathing us with the magic mystery of light…we look to the heavens at night and wonder at the glittering panoply of suns so distant and so strange, while accepting as commonplace our own.
We live in a world of indescribable wonder. Words cannot tell why beauty is beautiful, our senses must perceive what makes it so.
What we call art, literature, genuine poetry, and true religion are the products of awareness, seeing and feeling the magic which lies beyond the mole-tunnel view.
One man, in his mole-tunnel, says he is inconsequential, a slave to his job, of dust and to dust going. Another, poking his head our into the light, realizes that he is a miraculous as any engine, with eyes to see, a mind which to think, a spirit whose wings know no limitations.
The mole-man is bound to a commonplace earth and a commonplace life. He lives among God’s wonders without ever seeing them. But those who make a habit of appreciation find wonder in every moment, and every day, by the sense of participation in a miracle.
They see the glory of the flowers, the shapes and colors of trees and grass, the grace of tigers and serpents, the stories of selfishness or selflessness that are written on the faces men and women. They feel the wind upon their faces and the immeasurable majesty of distances in sky and sea.
And in those things there is the only true value. This a wonderful world. Take time to see it. You’re cheat yourself unless you appreciate it.—–E.L., 1957.
Ernest F. Lyons, famed St Lucie River conservationist, award-winning writer, and long time editor of the Stuart News: (http://www.flpress.com/node/63)
Transcribed by historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow