Outdoors
Is it that odd to befriend a limpet or two? You know, those cute little pointy-hat-looking shells that you see attached like cement to the rocks and what not amongst the barnacles and mussels and seaweed?
How to know when you've been in the woods too long 040109 OUTDOORS 1 For the CCW Is it that odd to befriend a limpet or two? You know, those cute little pointy-hat-looking shells that you see attached like cement to the rocks and what not amongst the barnacles and mussels and seaweed?

Photo By Carla Petersen

Meet Fred and Martha, two of the many limpets living on Prince of Wales Island.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Story last updated at 4/1/2009 - 11:06 am

How to know when you've been in the woods too long

Is it that odd to befriend a limpet or two? You know, those cute little pointy-hat-looking shells that you see attached like cement to the rocks and what not amongst the barnacles and mussels and seaweed?

Their sizes vary from teensy-weensy to about two inches around here and their multiple colors and racing stripes has them always looking just marvelous!

Well, one particularly large, two-inch diameter limpet attached to an old, dead tree caught my eye one day on my usual walk up the beach from my cabin on the saltwater. I sensed it wanted to communicate so I said hello and eventually found out his name is Fred.

Okay - maybe I made that up. Maybe I just named him Fred.

Right next to Fred, his wife Martha kept house. She was quite a bit smaller but very charming.

Neither one of them was very talkative, but I was able to determine the two smaller limpets nearby were two of their many children, Bonnie and Beth Ann.

They already had very nice vertical stripes and I think took a little more after their mother.

Each day I go by there and say hello and check out where they've moved to. Fred didn't move for a week, but then one day he was about a foot over down the log toward the water side. The next day he had rotated around and somewhat underneath, hiding in the rockweed.

Martha was nowhere to be seen for a few days, then finally returned from wherever she went - I think she was probably just visiting her mother. Fred displayed a fair amount of separation anxiety during that period.

It's impossible to meet all the limpets, although I've tried being friendly. Sometimes they are so consumed with their own little petty doings that I just leave them alone to sort it out. I suggest that they get a hobby or join in a just cause to improve the world, but they never get around to it, I guess.

Since I miss them when I get back to the cabin, I've begun a respectable limpet collection which I arrange in geometric patterns that compliment their colors and markings. Of course I only collect empty shells from deceased limpets, and if I find new creatures have moved in to the vacated apartment, I carefully put it back where it was.

There are all manner of curious occupants that jump right in there when these high demand limpet shell properties come up for rent. Quite often you'll find another limpet or two, as well as snails, worms and barnacles galore.

So the snails live in limpet shells and the limpets live in clam shells and the hermit crabs live in the snail shells. Okay then.

One of the excellent, more pricey large double cockle shells I picked up and turned over housed seven medium-sized limpets and gave the impression of being possibly a limpet think- tank. They wouldn't say what was going on in there, but the low whispering made me suspicious.

I still talk to people occasionally, but they are mostly all frozen in for now until things get back to a time of more activity. In the meantime, I've got perfectly good company right here on the beach!

Carla Petersen is a remote-living freelance artist and writer. She can be reached at whalepassoriginals@gmail.com


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