A recent stroll down Dodecanese Boulevard on a sunny afternoon felt like a trip to the Greek Islands. Shells and sponges; baklava and gyros; worry beads and Madonnas all competed for tourists’ attention. But instead of being in the middle of the Aegean Sea … I was in Tarpon Springs. Florida.
Shopfronts overflowed with gifts from the sea – shells, sea stars, and sponges of every description. Each basket yielded a new ocean jewel .
Classic yellow and wool sponges competed with fancy finger and vase sponges – a photographer’s dream.
But as I learned, one of these items was out of place – a pretender to the sea life throne. An impostor with the right shape and form, but different lineage.
Can you spot it?
If you chose the loofah in the center, you would be right (and you’re way ahead of me). The loofah (also luffa) is a member of the vining cucumber family, and a popular edible vegetable in China. As the fruit matures it develops a stiff, fibrous skeleton, which after peeling and drying becomes the familiar scrubbing sponge found in kitchens and bathrooms. If you’re curious about the process, check it out here.
I just love it that I can still be surprised … regularly!
12. By Pekinensis via Wikimedia Commons