He tried dating a few women since leaving her years ago to care for his elderly father. His most recent attempt ended with his date screaming, “I NEVER WANT TO SEE YOU AGAIN!!!” She had agreed to be his canoe partner on a nighttime river trip, organized through a local Florida canoe and kayak club. It sounded kind of romantic and fun.
Unfortunately for Michael, the trip guides had never paddled that particular river during the day, or night. Although the current was mild, invisible obstacles filled the river. Semi-submerged trees containing huge spider webs repeatedly wrapped around the faces of many participants, including the face of his bow seat passenger.
His farmer’s market vending friends howled with laughter the following day when he recounted the previous night’s misadventure. Mary suggested that he might consider something a bit less challenging for a first date; perhaps dinner inside a ‘nice’ restaurant? He felt canoeing was a perfect way to get to know someone fast. ” If you can’t paddle a simple canoe together, what’s the point?” he replied.
Michael liked to canoe with Dana They would sit facing each other. I know that sounds odd, but Michael had figured out a better way to deal with the wind, waves and currents canoeists face on open water. He rowed his 17′ forest green tripper canoe.
Dana would usually sit on the stern seat or thwart and steer the canoe, using a long paddle as a rudder, while Michael rowed. He liked this arrangement best. He loved to watch her long auburn hair float lightly on the breeze, her hazel eyes sparkle with pleasure and her ruby lips (she liked to wear red lipstick) smile with warmth and affection when she looked at him. They paddled well together and, for the most part, enjoyed each other’s company.
In Victorian times people would visit the seashore, just like people do today, except back then it was different. You see, back then, people believed that the little snails called periwinkles were magic. People believed that if you wished to know the name of your true love the periwinkles would write it out in the mud at low tide. Back then everything had a purpose, even squiggly lines in the mud.
Water surrounded Victorian England just like it does today. Periwinkles have lived there for as long as anyone can remember. Some hitched a ride to America on the Mayflower. They liked America and flourished. Now you can find periwinkles all along the East Coast of America, from Maine to Florida.
I don’t think Americans believe periwinkles are magical creatures anymore. Now if someone wants to find their true love they turn on the computer and sign up with computerized matchmaking services. But what does a computer know of true love?
To keep cool in the summer periwinkles point the tip of their shells at the sun. To warm up in the early morning or late afternoon they turn their shells sideways to the sun. Their shells are their homes. Each has a door that is closed at night and opened during the day. They are vegetarians and are peaceful creatures.
No one knows why periwinkles make spiral shaped homes. Their cousins, Terebra Turritella, are similar to periwinkles, except their shell homes are bigger, longer and pointier, with many more whorls. Alas. There are no magical stories associated with Terebra Turritella. It’s about time to tella one, don’t you think?
There are many different kinds of signaling devices for announcing ‘dinner’s ready’. The one I enjoy using the most now is seashell pasta. I’m not sure anyone I’ve ever taught how to whistle with seashell pasta actually uses it to call guests to the table, but I tell my customers that’s what they can use it for. Most people believe me and are delighted to receive a free piece of uncooked Italian seashell pasta as a gift.
The best seashell pasta to use for whistles is sold at Whole Foods Market under the trade name ‘365’. It’s called ‘Tomato Spinach Shells’ and is enriched macaroni (made in Italy). You get about a thousand whistles per one pound bag for less than two dollars. What a bargain!
I like these little Italian pasta shell whistles because they’re well made, sturdy, easy to hold and they’re multicolored. They are also penetratingly loud little whistles.
I give spinach pasta to customers who seem a bit timid when asked if they want to learn how to whistle really loud with pasta. I tell them it’s for strength.Tomato pasta is for beauty. Regular pasta is for youth; kids between five and seven years old. They spit a lot when learning the skill.
If a customer is having trouble learning the skill with a piece of pasta I usually say “Don’t worry. It’s not your fault. It’s probably defective pasta”. Then I give them something different, like a bottle cap or twist-off plastic bottle top. Larger objects are easier for some people to learn the skill with. They immediately feel better and it boosts their confidence. Most people get the skill within a minute or two using this method of instruction. (The ‘skill’ is fundamental to playing all the shells in my line of seashell musical instruments.)
Some words of advice: if the seashell pasta whistle is used in an inappropriate environment, such as inside a school or place of employment, and there is danger of being ‘busted’, eat the evidence. But have some fun doing it.Tell an innocent bystander there’s something wrong with your nose. Grab your nose with one hand while biting down hard on the pasta. The look you will get is priceless.
My apologies to all other manufacturers of seashell pasta. ‘365’ brand is best for whistling.
Whenever I visit my sister, Kate, in Delray Beach, Fl., I usually take a stroll along the seashore and flip small clam shells over with my big toe before bending down to pick one up. If the shell doesn’t have a small, perfectly round and neatly drilled hole through the hinge area I leave it be.
I look for pre-drilled shells to make into whistle necklaces. Some are colored with bands of browns, golds and charcoal grays. The solid black shells are fossilized and ten thousand years old. All of them are very hard and nearly impossible to break using bare hands.
The holes in the clam shells are drilled by rapacious moon snails. Each snail can eat many clams per week. They use their file-like tongue and acid to drill the hole before injecting digestive enzymes that dissolve the clam. Then they suck the liquefied meal out through the hole and move on to their next victim.
One day I was walking along the beach collecting shells. A lone person was kneeling in the sand several yards below the wrack line. She was wearing gray sweat pants, a long sleeve gray sweat shirt, sneakers and dark sun glasses. She appeared to be about my age and was filling an empty plastic soda bottle with small clam shells. I walked by and said “hi”. She didn’t answer me or even look up. This bothered me for some reason, so I turned around, walked back and knelt down on the sand right in front of her.
Before she had time to react I said ” clam shells make really loud whistles” and picked one up from the sand. I held it between both thumbs, brought my thumbs to my lips and let loose a startlingly loud, high-pitched whistle. She said “you must be whistling with your mouth and I don’t believe the clam shell made the whistle”. So I showed her how to do it. A few minutes later I stood up and continued my walk.
As I was leaving the beach I heard a distant whistle. I turned to see her standing, with one arm raised in a triumphant salute. She whistled again and waved at me. I waved back, whistled with my clam shell and left the beach smiling.