Explorations of mind, paths, and life

Ode to Seashells

Posted on October 12, 2008 - Filed Under self reflect

What is it about sea shells that encourages us to pick them up, look them over, and eventually collect them in pockets, pouches, bags, and buckets. I have, in essence, hundreds of shells collected from around my travels. I have no clue which is from where, having never marked them. yet there they sit in piles, in bowls, and a little glass box. The search itself is one of folly, blended with a bit of tenacious effort. It is like shopping for diamonds, the eyes passing over the layout, a glimpse of something special, then the dance to get it between our fingers. Sometimes, just the right one is planted near a passing wave and there is a desperate effort to save it from being lost at sea.

I have stopped collecting lots of shells. I still dance around the waves and pick them up, and they form a small collection during my time at the beach. Sometimes I sculpt in the sand and gently place them within the form as eyes, or other special features. Sometimes they are looked over several times, shuffled between salty water and sand, re-evaluated, and before I leave, tossed back for others to discover.

Monica and I had many shell collecting days as kids. I have fond memories of hikes down into Black’s Beach in California. Yes, our parents were nudists, and clothing was optional but not the norm. The hike was a treacherous one back when we were kids. I also remember that there were bull horns blowing on rare occasion, intended to let the crowds know when to cover up. I remember we were always reminded that if we heard them we were expected to throw something on… and although I never witnessed a raid, I understood that they existed. I don’t think that the beach was a “legal nudist beach” back then, and I am just as modest now as I was then, so there was always a suit on. The blasts would send all kinds of beach goers either scrambling to cover up, or to run with abandon into the ocean waves for cover. We swam on beaches that were not crowded or overwhelmed with umbrellas. We explored the shoreline, admired all the body painting (getting painted or getting TO paint others), built sand castles, and enjoyed all kinds of creative stories with bands of seaweed that washed up on shore. I remember the thrill of body surfing in the waves, feeling the water shoot me towards the shoreline, and squealing with the thrill of the ride. At the end of the day we climbed up the hillside, exhausted, tan, our skin warm and crispy with the dry salt water.

Today, as I squeezed the warm soft sand on the beach of Treasure Island, Florida, I had an itch to start sticking the shells to my finger tips. Monica and I would often find thin oblong shells and lay them on our finger tips, admiring our hands like we had gorgeous “mademoiselle” hands. My hands are so much larger and those shells hardly fit. I guess I could afford to fake my nails, but of all the things my body is GOOD at growing, it’s my nails. Instead I piled the little shells together, admiring the ways in which they contrast each other. My favorites the ones with dark orange bands amidst milky white streaks.

The beach has such a soothing effect on me. I love the feel of the sand, the sound of the waves, all the birds and wild-life. I love watching the sky change, and that sleepy feeling I get when breathing in the air and toasting my self in the sun. Although I didn’t return home with a small pile of shells, I did return with a small collection of memories, washed up from the depths of my mind, collecting themselves like the sand in my suit, eagerly awaiting my attention…


One Response to “Ode to Seashells”

  1. Debbi Kutner on October 17th, 2008 5:45 pm

    I miss you, Ev. My life is in transition. I am trying to breathe. I am trying to be present. I am trying to be peaceful. Wish we could play in the waves and talk.

    Love and Light,