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The Abalone and the Nomad

Abalone abalone jewelry Lost Coast North Coast The

It has been a treasure to grow up along the rugged Northern California coast. There is much there that becomes part of who you are as a person. The persistence of nature is something I saw at a very early age. The changes to land when a constant force is applied over time. A photograph on Facebook reminded me of this — The river is not stronger than the mountain, it just is patient. Such a statement brings to mind many things, but one of the most vivid is the Grand Canyon. With that image comes the idea of time.

Sit along the sandy shore. Close your eyes and just listen. You hear it immediately like the heartbeat of the Earth itself, the slow lapping of the ocean against rock and sand — A drummer lamenting. Slowly slide your hands down into the sand and with that the realization and understand that you are touching bits of mountains, ancient sea floor, and piece of things that were much larger. This is the way of life and time is the vessel by which we all eventually become grains of sand.


This was my home and I very much long to return to the shore and sit upon the sand and listen to that drummer. Perhaps soon. In the meantime I have journeys and adventures to fulfill. I would not be a nomad without such. 

Have you ever seen a tide pool? Those small worlds of small bodies of water that appear briefly when the high tide recedes. Those are adventures and for those who crave the adventure this is where the abalone come into the picture. The shoreline is rugged, but the pounding and strength of the water is what makes it so. The ocean is a sculptor that carves out a vista in a dance that is illustrated in the stars — A crescendo of full moons and sunsets. 

Life along the margin is not easy, yet it exists in droves. Just peer into a tide pool and life is all around you. The beautiful pinks, maroons, greens, and browns from just the algae is mesmerizing. Add to that the textured shells of the limpets arranged like tents. There is the carpet anemones too that defy humanities top scientists by creating a glue that helps them stick to a surface that is both wet, and that experiences a great amount of force. Nature is amazing. If you peer carefully and for a long enough time you may discover small fish, sculpin though we called them bullhead. There are small perch, bass, and crustaceans such as crabs or mollusk like the abalone. If you are patient and you look often, you may even see a nudibranch or octopus, both are gastropods. 

Life here is wild and the entire picture of evolution and survival of the fittest plays out on every wave that makes it to the shore. The above photograph is a piece of abalone shell. Its beautiful pinks, blues and dappled greens splay across its mirror finish as though it is a sunset in a very small sky. Just a fragment of something that was probably the size of your two hands cupped into a bowl. It is that beauty that draws me to the abalone as a medium. People talk about diamonds and sapphires but right there on the sand is something that is beautiful, full of color, and refractive in how it changes.

This is an ephemeral landscape that changes each time the wind blows or a large wave rolls onto the shore. The movement and rearrangement of grains of sand as large items are worn down then too become part of a sea of small grains, bit of crystals, lava, and magma. There is a story that unfolds here. One without an end and without a beginning. A slow dance that drums itself against the Earth a glass.... that is half full and a sky... that paints your life in its brilliant hues and forgotten tones.    

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