Friday, 21 November 2008
The strength of the sea
In my regular trips to the beach, I am often impressed by the power of those creatures that depend upon the sea for their lives.
It seems to me that such creatures have an overwhelming capacity for survival. I could go into numerous examples; the great spawnings that help defeat predation, and also the swarming of fish and the flashing of their scales to confuse those creatures higher in the food chain and help them to keep surviving. Still, nature often finds a way to break them down, no matter how well they protect themselves. It’s all quite inevitable, I suppose, but no less remarkable and fascinating.
It is, perhaps, the ability that many smaller, very simple creatures have developed to defend and protect themselves from the world that impresses me most. Take those creatures who reside within shells, for example. What miraculous creatures they are. They protect themselves from attack by coating their soft invertebrate bodies with a shield of their own creation. They manufacture crystals of calcium carbonate and add them in layers to create a protective exoskeleton. How amazing is that?
And then, they latch onto a rock. They hold fast and steady in the face of turbulent tides and the worst of storms. They wait in the baking sun for the sea to rise once more and cover them, and allow them to feed. And they just sit there, in the face of chaos, safe in their armour.
Anne agreed to pick me up from the hospital after my procedure. Heck, she even offered to come with me. That was nice of her. I’d quite forgotten she could be nice.
When she dropped me back home she asked if she should come in to make sure I was alright. Sylvie was at work, but I said no. ‘It wouldn’t be right’, I thought, but I didn’t say it.
I thanked Anne, and she told me to look after myself. I couldn’t help chuckling a little as I got out of the car. ‘Look after myself!’ I think it’s a little late for that.
I spent the next couple of days in bed. I told Sylvie I had a cold or flu or something. She brought me tea and sympathy, but she’s none the wiser. I’ll get the full results soon and then we’ll know.
Today I felt better. Today I have been to the beach and walked on the sand. I saw the mussels clinging to the grey rocks, just waiting, prone but secure enough, until the waters returned.
And then I watched the gulls, wheeling overhead. They held stones in their beaks and they dropped them from a height onto the mussels, smashing their proud shells and brittle bodies. Then the gulls descended and feasted.
It’s impressive. Nature; its capacity to survive and to devour. So magnificent.
This tale is part of a series. To read all the stories in this series search the blog for the keyword 'Anne', or click on the word 'Anne' in the 'Labels' tab below.