Saturday, February 27, 2010


Leslie and I took a walk along the edge of our world, as we do most Saturdays. The tide was out.

At the edge of our universe, we witness miracles. Today we saw a 1" horseshoe crab the color of sand, not quite a yearling, making the universal horseshoe crab tracking pattern. I rescued an older one, at least a decade old, flipped upside down, a gull nearby eying its gills.

The beach is littered with blue crabs recently dead, their murderers betrayed by the tracks of webbed feet.

The February wind whipped through our coats.
It's still winter here.

And then I stumbled on this:

Its earthy marine aroma seduces me, and repulses Leslie.

I think I've found a good chunk of ambergris, worth something back in the days before chemists played gods. A decade or two ago, a sperm whale wrestled with a giant squid, perhaps a mile deep, and won. The squid's beak took one last stab at the whale's gut, which formed a protective coating of, well, whale excrement around the squid's last charge.

The beak was eventually expelled, either as poop or vomit, neither method particularly charming, and after years in the sea was tossed up on our beach.

If anyone wants to buy it, let me know. In the meantime, I'll keep sniffing it, drawing up images of death and delight in the deepest recesses of my hind brain.

It was 2 years ago February that I tossed a whale's tooth back in the drink.
I wish I held onto that. Far more interesting than a piece of poop.

Horseshoe crab photo by Leslie, of course.


Tom Hoffman said...örk/_/Ambergris+March

Leslie said...

Okay, actually the smell of it is starting to grow on me.

Barry Bachenheimer said...

That's gross and disgusting and I'm sure the kids in class are mesmerized by the way you teach.

KCL said...

Ah, the deep regret of the "toss back to nature." I would feel the same way. In fact, I'm sorry you threw it back, too. What a treasure to find! Some tidy mermaid is probably annoyed with you.

doyle said...

Dear Tom,

Um, inneresting...I'd have though ambergris had more subdued tones.

Dear Barry,

A lot of kids look mesmerized, but then I see the cell phone peeking out of their pockets.

Dear KCL,

I am a bit impulsive, and glad I am, but sometimes leaves me wistful.

And maybe the tidy mermaid has it on her mantle now.