Friday, October 7, 2011

Bigger Than a Jelly Jar

Every now and then a walk down the beach brings me face to face with a sight way out of the ordinary. Most things that come up with the surf are in the line of seashells, an old barnacle crusted flip flop, seaweed, a dead fish, maybe an old Clorox bottle split up the side. But you can’t ever rule out the unusual, the amazing, beautiful or even the now and then scary surprise.

Thursday came with another beautiful morning on Florida’s east coast, the beach swept clean by what blows like an early autumn wind, the sand packed, easy on the feet, and as always the incomparable pelicans patrolling the surf line, eyes sharp for a morning mouthful. Not many people, a jogger or two, three fisherman trying their luck knee-deep in white froth, the lady looking for shells, all of us under a blue sky half full of white cotton candy. Little to see at my feet, nothing to sidestep, nothing to catch the eye.

Nothing at first. At the usual turnaround point I came upon the scary surprise, a sloshy blob of the biggest jellyfish in my experience. These were the kind of monsters that drove swimmer Diana Nyad out of the water last week on her attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida. Such large creatures are surely beautiful swimming or floating in their watery habitat, but it all falls away when they are beached and lay sprawled on sand in a poisonous clump.

A jellyfish nightmare that even alligators and hippos run from.


  1. Would love to hear any research you make about the value of such a creature. Surely God has a purpose for them. They are ugly but beautiful in their ugliness.

  2. And that is exactly why the novel JAWS was so successful: our fear of the deep, of confronting creatures scary and able to look at us as intruders or even lunch. But the allure of the sea keeps us close to it like the pull of the moon on the tides. Maybe it is that we washed ashore as one-cell beings and the attraction is for our first home.


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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America