This entry marks two milestones. It is my first post on this newly formed blog, as well as the first in a series I am titling “Found Object Diaries.” Though I have been collecting found objects for some time – mostly naturally occurring specimens that have piqued my interest in some fashion – I have never catalogued or otherwise recorded my findings in any way. I am hopeful that these entries will serve not only to preserve the objects themselves, but the memories attached to their discovery.
First, a bit of background… In January 2012, I moved into a little 100 year old house that had been suffering from years of neglect by former student occupants. As spring arrived and things began to grow, I started to work in the garden to rescue it from overgrowth. As I weeded, I came across the remains of a raven’s skull that had likely been resting in its place at the base of my silver maple for years. It was not alone. I found numerous other skeletons, buried toys from children long since grown, and dozens of hollow snail shells, which I later discovered were from the rare Iowa Pleistocene snail dating back 400,000 years and living no where else in the world. Man, who knew such amazing things could be found in your own back yard?!?
I started placing the items I discovered in a small wooden box my father constructed for me from my grandparent’s felled walnut tree. This is the box and its contents.
It includes the raven’s skull, an Iowa Pleistocene snail, a skeletonized linden leaf, a piece of petrified wood, a molted cicada exoskeleton, a paper wasp’s nest, and what is likely the tip of a squirrel tail. Though these objects might seem macabre to some, I find incredible beauty in their ephemerality. And, perhaps more importantly, they’ve spurred an interest in better understanding the cyclicality of life and the seasons, and act as a simple reminder to slow down and see what might otherwise be overlooked in the rush of everyday life.
Now onto my most recent finding.
Object #1: Green Lipped Mussel
Location: La Jolla, CA
Date: August 4, 2013
I recently took a brief trip to my hometown of San Diego to visit family and friends and to meet my newly born nephew. While in town, I hosted a picnic at the La Jolla Cove – an incredible stretch of coastline in Southern California. Here, I found a mussel shell, not along the beach, but up the cliffs on a patch of grass overlooking the ocean. I’ve seen mussel shells hundreds of times growing up in California, but never one with such vivid green around its edge. After some research, I believe I have identified it as a Green Lipped Mussel. I’m not sure, however, because these particular mussels are native to New Zealand and from what I could gather have only ever been found in the US along the Florida coast. Whether or not it actually washed ashore or was simply someone’s lunch, it’s still a beautiful shell worthy of the collection. Below is a detail of the green lip, which is actually even more vibrant in person.
As an interesting side note, the Green Lipped Mussel has been used by the Maori in New Zealand for centuries for its many health benefits. Rich in omega 3s, it is currently sold in health food stores as a natural supplement to prevent joint and muscle pain. Need a new supplement, anyone?