As I sit at my desk facing Gabarus Bay I am watching a nice nor'easter tear away at the beach behind the house. All summer long we have had calm seas and constructive waves. Now we are into the season of wildly destructive wave action. Always a little frightening if you live 30 yards from the north atlantic, but a thrilling time if you are a beachcomber. Pickins have been slim the last few months. Treasures few. We needed a good churn.
Lately my reading and t.v. watching has been decidedly Anglo-centric. Historical London seems to be a theme. I re-read an excellent book about the sewers of London:
Mudlarking, as it was called, was traditionally done by the poor - either children or the elderly - who scavenged for trinkets to sell. It was nasty work, dragging around through muck and raw sewage and occasionally encountering human and cat and dog carcasses.
Today, mudlarking in London is a hobby, a tourist activity and very carefully regulated. The things people find are amazing. This is an excellent book that has just been released about mudlarking finds.
Object lesson. Over the years I'd been collecting these tiny white tubes from a beach that was once the location of a number of fishing wharves and a lobster factory. I hadn't given much thought to what these white tubes were, assuming they were likely part of some kind of electrical wiring system. I don't remember the moment of revelation when I discovered they were actually clay pipe stems at least a century old. And I had dozens of them.
They fascinate me. They are a direct link with people who would have worked, fished and smoked in the very place I now walk and swim. It seems just a little magical that these fragile things would have survived time and tide. But here's the thing. While I've found stems, I've never found a pipe bowl. Never. Likely being more fragile they would break apart quicker. Stems, stems stems....
|Some of my collection of pipe stems on a seal clavicle|
This morning I was walking by the cabinet that is littered with my daily haul of beach stuff and was rooting around for shells when I came upon this:
|about an inch high and .75 wide|
I don't remember where and when I picked it up but on closer inspection I thought it looked unlike all the pottery shards I've found. More archaic. A little bit of research confirmed that, YES, it is a fragment of a pipe bowl! Take a look:
|Mine looks like # 21|
YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW EXCITING THIS IS.
Have the caps and fancy font convinced you? Well, it was exciting enough to revive my moribund blog in order to share this with you. Coincidentally, this discovery dovetails with my resolution this year to be just a little bit more mindful in my travels in this beachy world I inhabit.
2017. Look closer. Take more time. Ask more questions.
Find more answers. Share.
Stay tuned for a year of finding and sharing, my friends.