Thursday, March 31, 2011


We found an oil lamp on the beach.

There are a lot of rocks with holes in them, from where pebbles have been worn out of the hard bedrock.  This one had a perfect hollow connected to a hole that allowed the use of a cotton wick.  The first photo shows the rock by itself, with the 1/2-teaspoon of oil it can hold.  I think the Clallam people who had their village on this beach here used stone oil lamps with seal or bear oil; who knows if this is a worn-down remnant of someone's household lamp?   I pretend it is, without making any historical claims.  We keep the beach clean; it's the least we can do.

This is the lamp propped upright by another pebble in a Pyrex bowl, filled with plain vegetable oil.  The bowl has a delicate pattern around the rim, which projects this beautiful little sunburst.  It uses about a quarter-inch of oil in 12 hours.


This basket of shells helps us identify different species.  From left to right, they're: Eastern Softshell, Cockle, Native and Butter.  Butter clams hold onto Red Tide toxins for two years, so it's important to know which is which. 

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