Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.

Lying Around


On the beach, I found some things that have been lying around for a long, long time.

This tree, for example, has been clinging to life for decades, possibly waiting to change into a lizard and join its friend farther up the beach. Something happened to the tree, perhaps as it fell over with its roots still in the ground. Maybe at that time it was much smaller and the huge boulder injured it, or prevented it from growing straight.

This may have been when the gnarly knot that we call a burl was formed. These twisted lumps have an interesting grain, and markings that make them special. Artists love to take burls to their woodworking shops to make clocks and coffee tables out of the slices they can cut from the burl.

Just look at the size of this burl. I’m sure the rock had something to do with its formation over many years.

Under this tree, the sandy soil contains countless clamshells. The shells are not in all parts of the higher beach, making me wonder why they are all together in one place.

One guess is that it might have been a midden – a place where early peoples camped and ate clams, leaving the shells  in their “dining room.”

I found a similar midden in Baja California, where the native people from decades gone by brought their shellfish from the beach to a small cave where they ate the seafood and left the shells behind.

Here is another example of the parts of the beach with and without shells, higher up on the bank.

There could be other possible explanations, but for now, I like to think it was a midden – the lunch table where no one cleared away the dishes.

Author: wordsfromanneli

Writing, travel, photography, nature, more writing....

23 thoughts on “Lying Around

  1. What interesting finds! 🙂 Yes, it may very well be a midden – that tree seems to be quite old.

    Liked by 2 people

    • If the shells were everywhere in that layer of the beach, I would think it was a natural distribution, but because they are concentrated in a couple of small areas, it made me wonder if it was a midden. And yes, that burl took some time to grow!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “the lunch table where no one cleared away the dishes” 😁

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Very unusual, Anneli. If only the trees could talk. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Very interesting photos, Anneli. The accumulation of shells is quite a little mystery. I have to admit, my first thought was a raccoon and its young ones had possibly used the little nook as a shelter. Your explanation is likely much more accurate. The joys of nature! So many little surprises and mysteries to unravel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I bet the local raccoons have done just that, but there are more shells than any number of raccoons could have brought in, and they wouldn’t have been in one location. It is a cozy, sheltered nook though. I would love to know what the real story is.


  5. I’ve seen some beautiful projects made from burls. Nature astounds!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A lot of interesting findings and possibilities.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am sure they were washed up by many tides over the years. maybe it was a good spot for those clams to live. I have a clock made from a burl from the Charlottes. A good friend of ours gave it to us as a good bye gift. Nice pictures!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Fascinating, Anneli! Nature tells many stories.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Interesting! I had never thought of a “midden” that wasn’t made by squirrels.


  10. It probably says something that when I read the title of this post, I thought “oh, good, Anneli is relaxing and ‘lying around’.” Then I thought, “Good, maybe I can too!” Oh dear. Time to relax more. But I love the idea of items that have been left behind, lying around, from ages ago. Here’s a question – what do you have “lying around” your house that could be discovered decades from now? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Probably nothing! Most things in my life are bio-degradable, and I can’t see my books being up there on the classics lists along with those of world famous authors of the past. But if I had one thing to leave behind I would wish it to be my novels. Makes a person think though – we really are basically ashes to ashes, dust to dust.


  11. What a gnarled old tree! When I see old trees, I wonder who has passed by them over the years, and about all the changes that they have seen.

    It is interesting about the clams. As Ursula said, it could be a natural occurrence but shell heaps are sometimes important archaeological evidence. They’ve been found in the UK, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. It’s a mystery, and that’s what I find so fascinating about historical sites whether they’re natural or manmade. I think a time machine would be an amazing thing to have at our disposal. I did wonder about whether the clams could have been swept there by weather conditions or some other natural sequence of events. If only we could know.


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