Cable news, known for its restrained coverage of current events, reports that one Michael Packard recently survived an ordeal of biblical proportions. A professional lobster diver, he was allegedly swallowed by a humpback whale while plying his trade in the coastal waters off Cape Cod.
According to Mr. Packard’s account, the whale did not find his scuba-clad prey to his taste, and swinging his head (the whale’s, not the diver’s) from side to side tossed him back into the sea after 30-40 seconds.
This modern day Jonah is not a Delawarean and this Big Gulp, as opposed to ones available at 7-Eleven, did not occur in Delaware’s territorial waters, so there’s no way to be sure of the veracity of this tale. And, on advice of counsel, the whale is not talking.
At the very least, it’s a colorful story. And speaking of color, in the coastal region it has returned to has everything from cheeks to outdoor art.
In regard to the latter, there’s Kate Dodd’s multi-colored “Efflorescence,” a temporary installation erected in George H.P. Smith Park in Lewes last month. Consisting of 14 flower-like stalks, varying in height from 10-14 feet, and arranged to form a circle, it creates a striking faux flora display of color.
Significantly, the “flowers” on each stalk are made from re-cycled water bottles (some 3,000 in all) wrapped in mesh-like material of varying bright colors, and attached to a pole anchored in the ground.
If one didn’t know better, one might take them to be a type of exotic flowering plant, growing wild in a park environment. But unlike such a plant, “Efflorescence” doesn’t need fertilizer or watering, will not grow to crowd out other vegetation, and does not trigger any allergy known to Beebe Healthcare.
“Efflorescence” displays the full spectrum of color, of which blue seems to be the one that is most prominent in our region. It’s in the sky, the ocean, and, of course, the local shellfish.
Despite its familiar name, the shell of a Chesapeake blue crab appears to be olive or an off-shade of green. Closer inspection reveals a brilliant blue color on its front claws. Interestingly, the claws of the female of the species have tips of red, as they have for centuries, foretelling a human fashion trend that has continued down to today.
Unlike the blue crab, one has to dig deeper, so to speak, to find the blue in the horseshoe crab. It lies within, in the color of its blood. This blue blood is more than a curiosity, as it has anti-bacterial properties that make it valuable in the development of medicines and vaccines. In fact, Operation Warp Speed wouldn’t have been so speedy without it.
It is also worth noting that horseshoe crabs are the true blue bloods of the region, both literally and figuratively. They trace their roots, or rather their pedipalps (legs), back almost 450 million years.
With the advent of summer, color has emerged in a rather unexpected place. Under the leadership of the Friends of Cape Henlopen State Park, local businesses have contributed money to purchase 150-foot long “mobi mats,” to provide a safer and less challenging path through the sand dunes to the beach at Gordons Pond. Those mats are, wait for it, blue in color. Thus, the through way has been converted into a blue way.
But the mats are not just any blue. They bear a striking resemblance to the Columbia blue that is half of the school colors at CHHS. And both could be stand-ins for the Tiffany blue of that esteemed jewelry empire. In sum, the mats are in good company, as noted in a recent video on Hue Tube.
Lest you think that, colorwise, all is sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows in the coastal region, let me conclude by citing two instances where black-and-white prevails.
The most valued Delaware automotive license plates are those low digit ones issued in the classic white on black. Number 20 sold in the summer of 2018 for $410,000, and number 6 went for a record $675,00 in 2008. (Do we need, perhaps, to rethink the meaning of the phrase “the color of money”?)
And black and white cookies, the cake-like delicacy topped with evenly divided vanilla and chocolate icing, remain popular at local bakeries. Considered the most iconic cookie of all time by some, they have even made their way to the bakery aisle (or is it “isle”?) at Walmart.
In a sense, the regional popularity of cookies in general is not surprising. Dutch settlers, who figured so prominently in the 17th century history of our region, are often given credit for bringing the cookie to the so-called New World.
In fact, their word for cookie is koekje, pronounced in much the same way as the English word designating the same confection. Take that Babbel and Rosetta Stone!
Mike Berger is a freelance writer and retired university administrator with a home in Lewes. Contact him at [email protected]