|Florida Stone Crab Claw|
Watercolor and Gouache
3.5 x 2 inches
We stepped out into her garage where it was hotter than Hades and started to look around. I figured it was going to be a short hunt due to the heat, but it was a bit like a treasure hunt. Even though many of the boxes, crates, bins and bags were labeled, you never knew what you'd find inside.
Oddly enough, one of the very first bins I opened was filled to the top with seashells, starfish, and pieces of coral. (The label suggested watercolor supplies.) With an upcoming workshop taking place at the beach, I knew immediately that the bin of shells would be going home with me. Replacing the lid, I set the bin aside to keep looking.
It wasn't until I was home that I started to wonder at the serendipity of discovering a box of seashells—a grand plan by the Universe or just lucky happenstance? Digging around in the treasure trove, I discovered the crab claw you see above. There was also a plastic seahorse(?) as well as shells that had been sliced so that you could see the chambers within.
Because of the claw's faded colors, I couldn't decide if it had been cooked or was natural, so I started doing research and learned the following:
- The crab is actually called the Florida Stone Crab. I've never heard them called Florida Stone Crabs before.
- These crabs can be found as far as Connecticut to Belize in the North Atlantic Ocean all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, Cuba and the Bahamas.
- They live 7 to 9 years.
- Predators of stone crabs include the horse conch, octopus, grouper, sea turtle, cobia and humans.
- The crabs will easily give up a claw to escape from a predator as they can re-grow the lost appendage.
Given the amount of chipping and erosion along the edges of the claw, my guess is that it was found on a beach. Perhaps given to a predator or lost during a molt.
Looking closely at the two images, you can see torn tape around the edges of the sketch and a small peek of the other sketches that will be on the page once I get the page finished. The torn tape you see is an experiment to see if it will create a "torn edge" look to the boxes.
As for the rest of the shells in the bin, I could be busy painting shells until the cows come home in, say, 2051. It would definitely take a while and in an odd way, it kinda felt like a nod from our friend saying, "Yeah, I'm still keeping up with you and what you're doing. Now, get busy!"
Wishful, nostalgic thinking, no doubt, but comforting as well.
Many thanks to Minnette Webster—you may be gone, but you'll live forever in the many hearts you touched. Bon voyage!