If you are a mom or have taken care of an infant from birth then these should remind you of something.
They look to me like little belly buttons-well, the little dried up curly part of the belly button that falls off later anyway.
I saw these on the beach and simply could not resist picking them up. As I held them, wet and warm and solid in my fingers, I thought about how they look. How they started, how they ended up the way they did. I was holding all that was left after time and tide had worn away the beautiful delicate parts of these little creatures. The soft tender flesh the first to go. In most cases eaten up because the sea is no place to grow old. With no life inside, the shell is light and with no anchor gets tossed to and fro in the tides, becoming more brittle and worn with each phase of the moon. The larger and stronger the animal the longer the shell can hold up but eventually even the strongest lose form, gradually sanded away until all that is left is that hard little curl, the kiss of the hinge.
And as I rolled these little curls between my fingers and tucked them in my pockets I thought about life. How the hard shell that protects us also kills us. About how living, really living, calls for us to open our shells and expose that tender flesh, and how vulnerable we are to having our tender selves picked at and preyed upon, and still we do it. I thought about how when everything else has been rasped away if we are lucky there will remain that little curl of self, the core of strength in all of us that is the place where connections are formed.
I listened to the ocean, curled tight in a blanket in the dark and wondered if that was how it felt to be in my mothers womb. I thought about my connection to her and then about the connection to my own girls. I thought about belly buttons. And about how they are really scars from the first and biggest loss we ever experience.
I thought about that and a great many other things.Oh, and here is the picture of the Caramelized Onion White Pizza I promised. Looks pretty darn good doesn't it?