Thursday, January 19, 2012

January 16, 2012.

The noon weather here today is and sunny with 22 knots of breeze out of the northeast.

A blog reader wrote in with the question “What is a hamburger bean?”. That's pretty much what I said the first time I heard the term “hamburger bean”.

The hamburger is one of several different types of tropical seed. True sea beans are from the family Fabaceae. Some ride the equatorial currents all the way from Africa while others hitch a ride in the Gulfstream from South America and various islands of the West Indies. They are commonly found throughout the Bahamas and even the coast of Florida. It is said that a floating Heart Bean in the Eastern Atlantic led Columbus to believe that there was land yet to be discovered to his west.

The most common of the collectable beans is the Heart Bean. They are usually a brown/burgundy color and shaped like an idealized heart.
They're kinda cool but common enough down here that you could easily pick up hundreds a day so most people who bother only take an unusual or really pretty example.

The Hamburgers are on the next level of desirability. The most common are the browns and the reds.
They wash ashore at the whim of the tide and breeze. Sometimes they're buried in the seaweed and flotsam above the high water mark while other times they're laying right on top out in the open. Its rare, but occasionally a bean will wash ashore as you pass by. They physically resemble the hamburger of Wimpys dreams with a generous meat patty bulging out from between a fresh bun.

A lot of people collect them because it gets them off the boat and forces them to do a bit more walking than they might otherwise. A few of the more artistically talented of our peers turn them into jewelry.
The Hamburgers surface is thin but very hard. When polished with proceedingly finer sand paper the finish is furniture quality and very pretty.

Next up would be the Purse Beans. The purses come in various hues.
They have a fine seam around the circumference and the surface often looks like a fine piece of burled wood. Hamburgers on the beach probably outnumber the Purses 20 to 1.

Even more rare are the Mary's Beans and Monkey Faces.
The Mary's Bean are usually very dark in color and have a cross shaped depression across the top.
They resemble a tiny, burned hot cross bun.

The Monkey Faces take some imagination. They're a small elongated bean that has three holes in it that if looked at optimistically resemble a face.

The Cathy's Bean is among the rarest of the beans to be found down here.
We've walked countless miles of beach and have found only 1 Cathy's Bean. It resembles the purse bean with the biggest difference being the sharp red color of the Cathy's Bean.


Anonymous said...

Cool Beans!!!

Sharlyn said...

How big are these Hamburger and Purse beans? The hamburger beans look like they'd be quarter or dime size, but it's hard to tell. Cool about making jewelry with them. Very interesting information. Thanks for sharing!!

S/V Veranda said...

I should have included a ruler in the pics but....The Hamburgers run between 3/4 of an inch up to just over an inch. The purses are about the same size and the hearts can run all the way up to 3 inches or so.