Saturday, May 29, 2010

Fragile by Design

Jeff and I took the kids to the beach the other day. (This is a miracle. It's May, and in my state, you don't wear your swimsuit to the beach or touch the water until July.) All of us enjoyed finding crabs, those weird long bivalves whose name I don't know, mussels, seaweed, sea urchin shells, snails, driftwood, and plenty of rocks for throwing. Isaiah and I picked up every sea urchin shell we could find. They're just so remarkably beautiful. I've always admired them. Several were so delicate that in picking them up, they broke in pieces. An hour or two after we'd gotten there, I picked one up, showed it to Isaiah, said, "It's fragile," and broke it.

"Well, mom, it's meant to be fragile," he said.


"It's because it has those things in it. It was designed to be fragile."

I turned over the part of the sea urchin that was left, wondering what 'things' he was talking about. It had some muddy looking sand in it. "What things?"

"I can't remember what they're called. But do you see how they break so evenly? It's made to break like that."

I had not seen. I had only noticed they broke. I rinsed the urchin out, and looked more carefully. I broke it slowly, watching for 'things'. One broke in a perfect zigzag. I broke off another bit, which followed a perfect waved line. I found another intact one, and looked inside it. And then I saw the 'things'.
They're perforated. They have tiny, perfect, brilliantly beautiful perforated designs dividing them in sections vertically. And in between the sections, the shell is like honeycombed bricks. It took my breath away to look at it. I held one up to the light.

Wow. They're designed that way.