Saturday, June 29, 2013

All About Teamwork

This week I had the pleasure of being asked to join up with seven other instructors under a tent at Indian Town Gallery on Hatteras Island for their first ARTigras event. Painters, jewelers, a potter and glass blowers offered classes throughout the day, from a thunderstorm morning with drenching rain, through a hot, humid afternoon.                                                                                                                                                                              
setting up the worktable
My goals were to teach basic skills for sketching in the field and hopefully encourage more people to document nature in their own backyards and begin keeping a nature journal. Fears were quickly put to rest when people realized they could indeed draw after learning a few skills and tips. But what pleased me most was that everyone seemed just as excited about the objects I brought with me as they were about the lessons themselves. Both kids and adults were eager to learn more about this habitat they had come to visit and fall in love with, and I was happy to discuss my "finds" that I had scattered across the table to be selected for the subject of a drawing. It's always fun to know what you are drawing and what part it plays in the natural world.
Knobbed and Channeled Whelks

The most popular objects were the whelk egg cases. Many people had seen them on the beach, some had not, and not one person knew what they were. Whelks are a type of sea snail with over 50 species that can be found all around the world. In our area, we are likely to encounter the Knobbed Whelk, Channeled Whelk and the Lightning Whelk. These animals grow by building their shells around a central axis, producing whorls as they grow.
Lightning Whelk on left

The Knobbed Whelks have small bumps or "knobs" along the whorls and the Channeled Whelks have flattened whorls. Lightning Whelks are unusual in that the opening is on the left side instead of the more common right-sided opening. Whelks are carnivorous creatures, feasting on mollusks, crustaceans and worms. And of course, these are the shells that you can hold to your ear and hear the ocean, the sound being produced by the vibrations from the air that occur inside the spiral shell.

Knobbed and Channeled egg cases
But the most amazing thing to my students was when I shook a strand of egg cases and they heard the rattling sound inside, resulting from some of the eggs that had not hatched. Cracking open one of the cases, tiny, perfectly formed whelk shells spilled out. Makes one believe in magic doesn't it?

"In the heaven of Indra, there is said to be a network of pearls, arranged that if you look at one you will see all the others reflected in it. In the same way each object in the world is not merely itself but involves every other object and in fact is everything else."       C. Eliot
unhatched whelks

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