Tom Stock

Poet, Essayist, Photographer, Naturalist

A Basket of Finds

Mark Harrington gave me a basket full of nature objects that he  collected. I’d never received such a gift before. I rummaged through it and left it until I decided to write this post.

I don’t have my collection of nature things in a basket. They are here and there. A turkey skeleton and sea robin head on my nick knack shelf, bottles or garnet and magnetite sand in the garage and scattered here and there.

Of the 45 items, one of these was Florida shells. I could only remember the scientific name, Fossor donax. A google search produced the AH Ha…Coquina. These tiny shells accumulate by the millions in Florida and become combined by lime which glues them together. They have reached the Long Island shores.

The rich textures, forms, and colors of this collection each tells a story. All are interconnected, all are intelligent, all are related, and all are relevant. For me, this is like a box of toys when I was a kid. Each of conjures memories of where I’ve found many. This is a treasure trove of evolution. How did these former living things get here? How did they find their habitat? Where they on the ecological food web? How did they acquire adaptations to survive?

To look at the box turtle shell is to look at the forest floor, the dappled light, fallen leaves. How did the pitch pine cone inherit the Farbinocchi design scheme in its flap patterns. How far from here have the two nuts traveled from their tropical climate home? How did the horseshoe crab evolve the support columns in the inside of its carapace? What is the significance of the two heart-shaped conglomerates? I wonder too about the two  whelk shells with their coils, one clockwise, the other  counter-clockwise. These two snails may have been 50 years old!

I am in awe od this collection. It represents a tiny fraction of the life histories of birds, reptiles, mammals and invertebrates. I found all all three rock specimens, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. Human presence as well – two pennies, polished rocks, beach glass.

I will pass this basket of nature to my grandchildren. It is a museum in miniature.

Tom Stock

Tom Stock has been involved in the Long Island environmental and outdoor education community for decades.

He has published two books; THE NISSEQUOGUE RIVER: A JOURNEY and HIDDEN AGENDA; A POETRY JOURNEY.He has also published many essays and poems in such journals as the Long Island Forum and The Long Islander.

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2 Comments

  1. Mark

    Nice tribute, Tom. Every time my wife and I saw or rummaged through that basket we thought of you. It’s in its right home. Hope you had a great birthday.

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