36 - What day is it? Ask the worms and the snails
Exactly a year ago, I wrote blog post No. 13, “Washing out the Wormholes”. An eagle-eyed reader had enjoyed it and wanted to know what the shiny green sphere buried in the sand was next to the play arrow on the audio recording at the foot of the post. She told me she had walked the same beach as me many times and had often seen them. I had noticed loads of these little globules buried in the sand myself but, as I tend to enjoy the mystery of wondering what things might be rather than looking up the facts, I had never bothered to find out, so I had to confess I had absolutely no idea.
We googled away between us, and eventually discovered that they were the egg sacs of the green leaf worm. A strange coincidence, as the wormholes I was referring to in the title of post No. 13 were my name for the lapses of memory caused by too much intensive work at the computer, and the magic power of a walk by the sea to clear out these wormholes and restore the mind. As egg sacs go, these ones are quite enticing. They look for all the world like those hard-boiled sweet lollipops, and they even have a “stick” attached to them – I haven’t been able to discover what the stick might be. It seems to sink into the sand but, just in case it’s a worm and might wriggle, I haven’t bothered to find that out either.
Pathological phobias notwithstanding, google searches have brought up some very beautiful shades of worm. The egg sac “lollipops” are a lovely striated jade green, but the colours of the worm that laid them are even more gorgeous. Emerald to viridian to delicate spring leaf green and all shades in between can shimmer across the length of just one of these truly exotic and very very long creatures. Google also tells me that the worms themselves are most commonly seen April to August, so not long to wait now…
Anyway, right now, it must be multiplication time again as the alien green globes are once more populating the seashore, along with some other signs of spring, not crocuses or golden daffodils, but big fluffy cream-coloured bundles of something drifting about the beach in the wind that I’ve assumed for many years also to be egg cases of some sort, but never bothered to find that out either until now. I’ve been surprised to learn that they are the eggs of the common whelk, a sea snail that lives in a whirly shell, quite small and the unlikely source of such a prodigiously huge bundle of eggs. They are papery and dry, and I guess the infant whelks have long since hatched by the time their discarded eggshells are washed up on the tideline. Unlike the slimy green leaf worm eggs, despite their bubbly texture, these are crisp and light and unthreatening to pick up.
These signs of spring provided my inspiration for today’s artwork. If you choose “picture in picture” mode on the audio clip image, you can let the voice of the sea wash out your wormholes as you look.