Click the video above for 2 minutes of background waves while reading.
I like walking on the beach. It is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.
The beach is home to the discarded, hard, protective shells of sea creatures. The original homes for a clam, oyster, scallop, whelk, snail, and others in the sea. Even homes for hermit crabs that did not make the shell, but who are willing to carry it around as if it is a used shopping cart.
Shell – the sign of the gold shell with red accents on a red or white background – a shell of a scallop, as well as the symbol for a brand of gasoline.
I am not a sheller, but shells serve as a reminder of where I am – walking along the boundary between two worlds that offer many similarities and differences. Two worlds – one to my left and one to my right. Two worlds – one that I live on and one whose mysteries and beauties I only encounter through videos and still images. Two worlds – the land and the sea.
I am not a sheller, but shells form a line as to say “Walk this way.”
I am not a sheller but I give them the quick once-over as I walk. Even though I am not on a stroll or a hunt, sometimes one catches my eye – a design or a color – a fragment or a whole – small, medium, or large – so I stop to look as the water continues refreshing my feet.
I am not a sheller, but shells remind me of all the life that is in the water. Yes – out there in the shallow and in the deep and everything in between. Life abundant that is woven together into an intricate complexity of beauty and stability. Just like my world on land.
I am not a sheller, but shells remind me of the life that is just below where I walk – that is below the surface where I walk and stand. That life below is sometimes submerged in water, but always covered with sand. A life that is adapted to the daily tides – but they are different from the life that is adapted to living in the pools along the rocks where I do not walk.
I am not a sheller, but their colors begin to grab me as I pass. They are not the colors of the rainbow but if the light is right, that rainbow spectrum occasionally shows itself on the inner surface. Most of the outer colors are ranges of brown and gray. Sometimes the brown combines with red to provide orange – but sometimes the red appears. Some grays with so little white that they are black – yet a few with so little black they are white – let alone when they combine in different arrangements of colors in bands, streaks, or blotches.
Colors that can signify a species or possibly an age – or even a variation of colors within a species just as the colors of human hair differs from person to person. The colors tempt me to create my color spectrum with shells- yet I resist by keeping my steady pace. But the more I walk, the more the colors and designs affect me. Oh, the diversity of life!
I am not a sheller, but as I walk near their defined line on the sand, I notice ridges, grooves, spikes, and protrusions. Some are quite pronounced, yet others are so slight that we think the surface is smooth – at least until our light touch moves across the surface. Patterns can be vertical, horizontal, or both – and even random – yet the frequency of these pronouncements of nature can be many or few.
So many patterns that must signify different species within the beautiful living world. Patterns and colors that are present for a reason – patterns and colors that are part of the adaptations and variations in the intricate web of life.
I am not a sheller, but shells are a gift from the sea showing the strength and resilience of nature’s ceramic – a natural treasure humanity historically used as coins, buttons, and tools.
I am not a sheller, but I too will keep my eyes attuned to find an unexpected treasure – maybe, just maybe – the elusive chambered nautilus that inspired da Vinci’s spiral staircase.
I am not a sheller, but I pass families being attracted by the colors, patterns, and iridescent glossy lining that is smooth to our touch. Kids intently concentrating during their search that seems without criteria – yet the experienced parents and/or grandparents are possibly training a future sheller.
To some, I walk in nature; to others, I walk in creation – yet to me, nature and creation are one and the same. Wonder fills the natural world around us – even in the half-mooned shells of calcium carbonate found along the sand as one walks – but only if one takes the time to look as they walk and refresh the feet.
The day’s sunset leads to night, the time when magic happens. The next day’s daybreak may display new treasures that the receding tides left behind – and the shellers know to start early in the day.
Although I am not a sheller, shells are a good reason why I like walking on the beach – and I know enough to listen to them because they speak to us. Besides, I like walking on the beach. It is good for the body, mind, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.
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Next Walk: Sand (Tuesday 3 November @ 1 AM Eastern US)