Posted by: dharmabeachbum | September 7, 2013

Patience key when combing beach, Grasshopper

Master Po prepares Caine to leave the Shaolin monastery.

“Blue eyes. (Master Po’s) got blue eyes.” Here he prepares Caine to leave the Shaolin monastery.

Patience is a virtue, Grasshopper.” I could hear in the wind the voice of Master Po telling me to keep my cool while hunting sharks’ teeth in the upper portion of a shell bed. He had taught Kwai Chang Caine the same value in the early-70s television show, Kung Fu.

I loved that program. It was different. The late David Carradine played a Shaolin monk on the lam after killing a man in retaliation for his killing of Caine’s mentor, Master Po, played brilliantly in flashbacks by Keye Luke. For trivia buffs, Luke also played Number One Son in the Charlie Chan movies. The younger Caine was played sometimes by David’s brother Keith.

Caine fled from China to the United States and was hoofing it through the old west. His late father was an American and Caine sought his kin while stepping up against injustices encountered along the journey. That was always the coolest part of the show for me. Someone pushed Caine too far and he kicked some butt, using martial arts skills learned at a monastery.

The tide ebbed and the shell bed, perhaps 30 to 40-feet-long, was gradually being exposed. I’d been pacing along the top of it for 15 minutes without any success and was starting to feel a little ornery.

“Is a preying mantis patient when it stalks its prey?”

“Yes, master.”

“Is a mountain patient when watching over the valley?”

“Yes, master.”

The humble voice within my subconscious disappeared. I summoned my newest mentor after not finding a shark’s tooth in the subsequent 15 minutes. Mentor Number One, of course, is Jon Seagull.

“Master, if I weren’t here, would the sharks’ teeth slip under the sands to be buried again for another million years?

“It matters not, Grasshopper. They will be treasures even when buried. So, too, will they be treasures if found by others.”

“Gotcha. I’m fixin’ to get back to lookin’ then. Later, Master Po.”

The upper ten feet of the bed was above the surf and I still hadn’t found a tooth. Nearly a half-hour had passed. I was plum out of cool.

“Remember, Grasshopper. The fruit of patience is sweet.”

Now the geezer of my hallucinations was annoying me. Unlike Caine, I have a short fuse.

“Master, please don’t call me Grasshopper anymore. I’m the dharma beach bum,” I growled, before calming myself some to ask the blind guy another question, “Is it wrong for me to want to find all the treasures on the beach? Even if I share some with the tourists?”

“Your conscience will tell you, dharma beach bum.”

“Well, good. I just found two sharks teeth in a row. Gotta go!”

“Does it bother you, dharma beach bum, to deny tourists the joy of discovering treasures?”

“Nope. Now zip it.”

“Silence is…”


By the time half the shell bed was exposed I’d found 12 small teeth. The hunting got better after that. I found 32 in all that early September morning.

Patience is truly a virtue when hunting for sharks’ teeth. The marvels of natural history have been buried beneath Neptune’s realm for tens of thousands to millions of years. They’ve shifted through the sands of time and made it to our beaches against incredible odds. I think we can spare a few minutes between finds.

Here’s another tip for beachcombers: I like pacing along the tide line when hunting in shell beds like the one described above. Don’t stand in one spot too long. A still beachcomber is an empty-handed beachcomber. Let the waves work their magic. Watch the teeth separate from shells around them. Wade in the water when weather permits. To me, that’s year round as long as the air temperature is 60 or so.

I hope I wasn’t too hard on Master Po. I need all the advice I can get.



  1. Mr. Rob, Your vivid description of that mornings beach combing leaves me yearning to be there. 32 teeth, WOW! I can feel the breeze and hear the waves…..Can’t get back soon enough!

    • Hey Miss Tara. How are y’all doin’? The weather has been exceptionally good lately (finally, lot of spotty weather this year). I haven’t found one big tooth since talking with you and Mr. Kenneth on the beach, but I sure have been finding a lot of small ones. The ocean is green and relatively calm. Awesome.

  2. “i was PLUM out of patience” you are a true south carolinian…(i’m plum tuckered out..i just saw dolphin jumping after i saw mullet jumping).

    • I’m laughing like crazy. A southerner I know said I use more “country” terms than most southerners. I’ve been fixin’ to stop saying “y’all,” but I plum can’t do it.

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