As we walk down the beach, I become aware of my collection of bits and bobs, which is beginning to bulge further out of my jacket pocket. Shells, sometimes pebbles, stones, small segments of driftwood, smoothed glass and if we are walking along certain beaches there maybe 3 shades of pohutukawa leaves. All too precious not to collect from being stomped from a passing jogger engrossed in listening to music from their earphones. Whereas some objects have us completely stumped and they are ones that we are not inclined to pick up. These unusual things are usually washed up after a storm, dislodging from the seabed! The one in the below photo was washed up on Ohope Beach a few years ago, one news source described it as a “sea monster with dreadlocks”, a far more descriptive name than it’s real one which is called Gooseneck Barnacles [Lepas anatifera]. These strange sea objects are considered a delicacy in Spain where food buffs will fork out hundreds of dollars to enjoy eating it.
This art of finding and collecting objects has been a habit I had for many years. Now my enjoyment of beachcombing is through the photographs I take. As most times my stash of treasure never returns to home base with the Squire and me as I now leave my stash neatly placed in the sand where perhaps a child or another appreciating collector will maybe add these treasures to their own collection. Then as I walk away, I wonder what will be created with these findings or perhaps the beach/tatahi will reclaim it.
One person who did decorate many objects from years of beachcombing was the Squires, Auntie Margaret, who used to use particular types of shells’ to brighten up terracotta flower pots, which we were the lucky recipients of one such creation which was placed amongst native grasses in our garden on our farm many years ago. Hopefully, the new owners are enjoying it as the garden had claimed it and it did look very much at home and wouldn’t have been appropriate in a motorhome.
Then there are the times when we have enjoyed our interaction with nieces as they go treasure hunting, discovering what they have collected. Sometimes even extending that with a visit to the library to find out more information about their discoveries.
So far we have not been fortunate enough to encounter ambergris on our beachcombing explorations. Now that would be one object worth keeping.
Which makes me think that there must be many others who like me, find much enjoyment picking up that small sandy object from a walk along our many shores.
An old saying comes to mind.