Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Car trouble & sea urchins

If you have three vehicles for two people, you are always explaining that well, they have different uses. And besides, if one is broken then you don't have to scramble, because you still have two working vehicles.

I now believe that if you repeat that too often, two vehicles are bound to break down at the same time.

Back before we had so many critters, we took a trip now and then. We always took the big truck, because it was the most comfortable to ride in, could cart around a lot of stuff, and could be slept in if necessary.

The truck has a cubbyhole space just below the dashboard on the passenger's side. I'm not sure of its intended use, but it's become a sort of mini museum of our travels.

Interesting seeds, cones, feathers, and fossil rocks share space with an old binocular lens cleaner, faded ticket stubs, and the most important of all travel accessories: 6 feet of Bubblegum.

My favorite things though, are the Green Sea Urchin (Stronglyocentrotus droebachiensis) tests (shells).

There were several more, but I've given them away to other nature nuts who expressed an interest. Here are some nice pictures of what the sea urchins looked like when they were alive.

We found these on rocky beaches on our trip to Nova Scotia 5 or 6 years ago.

I'd seen pictures of rocky beaches before, but had never thought about what they sounded like. I'd never heard anyone wax poetic about the whispery clatter of a rocky beach. But now it's one of my favorite sounds. The rocks are very smooth, and tumble against each other with each wave. A beautiful noise.

A few sea urchin facts:
They are circumpolar in northern waters.
I really like the word "circumpolar".
Sea urchin means sea hedgehog.
They are pentamerously radially symetrical.
The raised bumps are where the spines were attached.
Pentamerous is my new word of the day.


Rexroth's Daughter said...

Pentamerous is my new word of the day.
I was going to say that!
I hadn't thought about that space in the car we fill up with detritus of our travels as a mini museum, but I will from now on. That's a great description. Sometimes, when I don't look into that cubbyhole for a year or more, I find stuff I don't even remember picking up. It's like finding it again!

Niobium said...

We just got back from a week in York, Maine. We stay in a cottage about...1000 feet?...from the beach. We always long to hear the ocean as we fall asleep, but there are many cottages between us and the water.

Jenn said...

...the whispery clatter of a rocky beach..

Yes! My strongest memory of a trip to California and thence to Catalina Island is the sea sighing in and out over a rocky stretch. (they had brought in the rock to try and stem the erosion of the seaside road)

It was one of the most beautiful sounds.

Deb said...

"pentamerously radially symmetrical"...sounds like one of the phrases I was forced to memorize in my tenth grade biology class with Dr. (NOT Mr.) "the Hum" Hummel. He did a good job though; I turned out to be a biologist.

I don't have any urchins in any of our vehicles, although I remember driftwood and smooth stones from our visits to the Northern California coast. I live too far from the ocean now!

Anonymous said...

That gum is too soft for my tastes. I prefer a firmer chew, along the lines of "Extra".

Keep doin' what you do.

swamp4me said...

We saw our first rocky beach last June in Maine. We were captivated.

Ron Sullivan said...

OK, so I'm not the only perv who picks up rocks and odds and ends. It's amazing what you can pick up off rural roadsides. Spent shotgun shells make nice bud vases; so do bullet casings if you're working at a really miniature level.

There's a lot of landfill in San Francisco Bay. Some of appears to be dumps full of broken china -- mostly restaurant-grade, and from the amount and variety I'd guess there was a factory or maybe just a receiving dock somewhere close. The china gets worn around the edges by moving water; the layer gets exposed by erosion; the sound the waves give it is a soft jingle insteat of a clatter. Startling until you figure it out.

We have, somewhere, a bedroom lamp made of a sea urchin test, by putting it on a wooden base, wiring it up, and using a little conical chandelier bulb. Nice light.

Thisbe said...

At Ostia, the beach town for Rome, there are no shells and very little china washed up along the water's edge; instead, there are small chunks of terra-cotta tile, brightly-glazed and sometimes patterned, from the walls and floors of buildings that were there millenia ago.

pablo said...

The floor of my truck, between the two front seats is now the collection site for our bleached box turtle shells. Funny the stuff we accumulate.

Floridacracker said...

I am willing to be be proved wrong here, 'cause that would mean I have learned..., but the green sea urchin is supposed to have the longest scientific name of any animal.

Re: Deb's comment: my students also have to learn pentamerous radial symmetry and how this characteristic runs through the echinoderm clan...and some of them have become biologists, so maybe there is some magic to this word.

How you can keep an urchin test in a bouncy truck and not break it is beyond me.

Charles said...

I used to like that stuff; the wind in the trees, waves against the shore. Not any more. Give me a car alarm, or a garbage truck backing up, or incoherent subway announcements that pierce, makeing everyone wince.

Ontario Wanderer said...

We have new "used" cars that the dealers cleaned up so all of our "museum pieces" are in the house right now. Yes, rocks from every trip and from the top of every mountain climbed and sea coast visited as well as sea shells, egg shells, feathers, driftwood, etc. Some of it has turned into mobiles that have been hung and/or sold and some just sits to collect dust and memeories.

Rurality said...

RD I know what you mean. I found some ticket stubs with dates and I felt like I was on an expedition.

Nio & Swampy, we stayed a short time in Maine before heading for Nova Scotia. Would love to go back there some time. Wanted to spend way more time at Acadia Nat'l Park.

Jenn I was there once, but on a job interview... saw Catalina island from a restaurant but that was about it.

Deb I've got whole bags full of smooth rocks from Canada! I think there used to be a few in this cubbyhole but we moved them to the top of a plant I believe.

Thingfish, I know what you mean. But there's just something about 6 FEET of gum and a road trip...

Ron that sounds kind of interesting. I'd probably want to to some mosaic stuff with that. If you come across the lamp you should post a picture!

Thisbe, now you've got me wanting to go there. That would be so cool. I'd be wanting to smuggle home tons of that in my pockets.

Pablo, you owe me a picture... :)

Floridacracker - interesting! The truck isn't bouncy though. That's why we take it on long trips. It's the most comfortable vehicle I've ridden in actually.

Charles I'm not sure if you're just in the right place, or if you've adapted to your environment!

OW, mobiles, eh? That sounded good for a minute, til I remembered the cats!