Friday, 19 February 2016

Beach Combing : Finding Dreams

On our way to the beach on Tuesday I was hoping for interesting finds. It's been stormy here, wild winds and rain sweeping inland for days. Reading this book by poet Jean Sprackland about beaches near where I grew up had made me eager to find something out of the ordinary.

In fact, when we got to Gavres, the beach seemed strangely calm and almost tidy. There were two distinct tide lines. One like the smeared rim of a glass that's been through the dishwasher too many times, barely there. The other a scattered constellation of stones, pebbles and fossils, great drifts of debris forming a barrier to bare feet between the warm dry sands and the exposed wet sticky sands that stretched out to meet the ocean.

I wandered along the two tide lines lazily my eyes scanning the surface, taking in all the old familiar friends; cockle shells, turret shells, calico scallops and an infinite variety of smooth, rough, flat, round, large and small pebbles and stones.  

And then I saw it, so small I should have missed it, would have missed it if I hadn't been so finickity, shuffling along at snail's pace my eyes sweeping the sand. A starfish.

As it was on the beach

I've dreamed of finding one of these. I know that's a bit strange but it's true, while some people dream of fame and fortune, I dream of sea shells and starfish. Trying to identify our find proved difficult. There are about 2000 species and they are not in fact fish but echinoderms. The preferred term for them is therefore sea stars as opposed to starfish. Noah and I scrawled through hundreds of photographs on the internet. Our specimen seemed to resemble the beaded star the most in colour and form but I'm not sure from the information available that this particular species is found in this part of the Atlantic ocean. Perhaps a common starfish then although it seems to lack the size for that.

Well whatever kind of sea star it is, it is perfectly formed, it's five arms making a slightly wonky star. On one side it is laced with white, tiny blanket stitches seemingly holding it together. On the other it is a dark speckled pink - it could almost be a pin cushion except for its hardness. It is exquisitely delicate and beautiful. 

One by one I shared my find with the rest of the family and we were all touched by the wonderful strangeness of it, like a star fallen down to the sea. It struck me then as it has before, how beautiful the world is, how marvelous it is to find the same forms in the constellations and on the seabed, as if the same intricate pattern is woven into everything. I'd love to hear from anyone who's found a dream recently, or a star or anything that made them feel joy or wonder just as this sea star did for me...

Up close

Blanket Stitch?

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