The beauty of shells

I’m blogging today from the seventh floor balcony of the Lido Beach Resort in Sarasota, Florida, where Cari and I are enjoying a relaxing evening while Stu does yearbook stuff. His annual yearbook camp has been in Orlando for the last two summers, and while I love Orlando, and let’s face it, any hotel, I’m thrilled to be here. On the beach. I’ve spent a good deal of my time so far right here, listening to the waves and letting the sun relax some of my anxiety and stress away. I should be doing a million other things, but I am here, reflecting on a lovely afternoon.

We arrived here today at about 11 am and spent a good hour getting our students, members of the Cobra de Capello Yearbook Staff, settled while we waited for our room. We peaked a bit at the pool and the beach, but until Stu was off to begin his first session with the kids, Cari and I just puttered around the room. Almost as soon as he had closed the door, Cari insisted that I put on my bathing suit so we could go swimming. I wasn’t opposed; the pool is spacious and mostly deserted, and I’ve been reading a book that I was interested in putting a dent into. But that wasn’t meant to be, and I’m glad for it. My iPad mini overheated… it actually produced a warning message saying that it would wait until it was a proper temperature before becoming operation again, thank you very much. So I decided to play it safe and return both my iPad and my iPhone to the room. Being digitally dark, as they say, made for a fantastic afternoon with my daughter.

When I returned to the pool, Cari was ready to go shelling. While we were waiting for our room, Cari found a coupon book in registration that featured an article about the shells that can be found in this area. Well, that was enough for Cari. She saw those beautiful shells and knew that she wanted to spend at least part of the afternoon shelling. I wanted to warn her that shells are sometimes hard to find, but she didn’t seem to mind as we made our way to the beach only steps away from the pool. Almost instantly, she was crouched the over colorful bits that dotted the sand and was storing her treasures into her borrowed bucket. We walked for thirty minutes or so at a snail’s pace, both watching the water carefully for the snake eye shell she really wanted. But what she found was what was really remarkable. I’ve been collecting shells since before I was her age from Cocoa Beach, where my grandmother lived and I visited nearly every summer. Cari, too, has been collecting shells since she was old enough to carry a bucket for herself. But what really struck me was how different the shells she picked up were from mine. Cari fell in love with broad, white clam shells, and didn’t seem to care that she had collected a dozen; every time she spotted another she would exclaim excitedly and drop the prize into her bucket. I was much more selective: I sought after the more classic shape of the scallop shell or any pattern or texture that was different. When she found a “twisty” shell, even though it was completely broken, she was positively ecstatic. “Look how beautiful, Mom!” she told me.

I wonder when it came to be that my own appreciation of beauty changed so dramatically. Really, the shell was beautiful. It was worn but still maintained strongly some of the structure that made it stand apart. But to be philosophical, it represented much more; the water rushing around our feet, the sand between our toes, the warmth of the sun on our backs, and the precious moment that we shared holding hands as we walked back to the hotel. I wonder how often we miss those moments.

Happy Summer, all…  Thanks for coming back to read this, even though I’m two weeks behind!

Do you have any shell collecting stories?  Or am I the only person who gets philosophical at the beach?

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One thought on “The beauty of shells

  1. Allison, I have memories of us collecting shells, but not many, I suspect you and your mom did more collecting than you and I. At that time of the day I was probably playing golf.. I remember the putt putt and go carts, the trips to Ron Jons, and of course meals with grandmother at Patrick AFB. There are many fond memories of our visits to Coco. Love Dad

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