Sea Shells

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Have you walked along the beach lately? Where have all the sea shells gone? Through the years I have picked up many treasures. Angle wings–those tiny delicate coupled shells. And then once I actually found a sizeable counch shell that you can put up to your ear and imagine hearinig the wind. For a few years I visited a pile of crumbling rocks from an old fort (they said) on Hilton Head Island. There I picked up many olives (spiral shaped shells). I even filled a glass table lamp with small shells.

A tongue twister I remember goes like this:

She sells seashells by the seashore, The shells she sells are seashells, I’m sure. So if she sells seashells on the seashore, Then I’m sure she sells seashore shells.

Supposedly this is an 1870s poem by fossil collector, Terry Sullivan. Then in later years someone sang “Sally sells seashells” etc.

Today so many beaches have replacement sand trucked in as beaches erode. Or, bulldozers push sand in when the tide goes out. Recently I went shopping for seashells at several tourist shops near the beach. Yes, they had shells, but not from this beach. And, yes, even the price of shells has gone up from three for a dollar to a dollar each. When I was eight I used to string macaroni shells and pretend they were from the beach. Even the price of macaroni has increased.

Last week in my Journaling class I wrote about my company trip to Marco Island, FL in the ’80s. I walked on a beach there littered with star fish. I wanted to take a shell home. So I packed away a couple in my suitcase. In a day my room was smelling. I learned that you have to boil and clean your specimen. I went out and bought a couple.

I will end today with a poem I wrote:

Sea Shells — Neptune’s Gift

The waves gently ripple and disclose

Spiny, spirals freckled with sand.

Neptune’s gift!

An ancient token of time held softly in one’s hand.

by Frances Altman

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