4 – Shells

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.”

Photo by Pok Rie on Pexels.com

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.

Photo by VisionPic .net on Pexels.com

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.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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.

Follow Beach Walk Reflections

Next Walk: Sand (Tuesday 3 November @ 1 AM Eastern US)

110 thoughts on “4 – Shells”

  1. Lovely writing………I used to enjoy shelling although I only kept the real “gems” I’d find – put them in a glass globe and hubby made a lamp out of it……..I really enjoyed finding sea glass as well. I always thought of shells and glass as gifts from the sea and the trash scattered among them as a reminder that the sea is a world that deserves the same respect we demand on land……..

    Pam

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Pam,
      Thanks for the kind words and for sharing a bit of your shelling experience. The variations seem endless. During our first trip as snowbirds, I collected variations in colors and had a color continuum on the counter. Never meant to come home, but just as something to see and think about. From that, this walk came out of it. But future trip focused on more unique shells that my eyes would suddenly catch.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Merril,
      I had to chuckle because “sheller” is probably something I made it. After all, sheller seems appropriate as the one shelling. As one who walks many more times in bare feet, I know the feeling.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m not often on a beach, Frank but I do like the life and life signs along the water’s edge. Thanks for reminding me of all that that represents. It’s good to remember that we are a small part of a much larger system.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good Morning Dan.
      The water’s edge unique with such going on. So different than 10 yards in and 10 yards out. I find the interactions in our world to be fascinating. We think about the intricacies of human design, but they fall far short of the those in the natural world.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I never was a sheller either but what struck me was not only the variety of sea creatures but that so many die each day. I always wondered if the replacements were staying ahead of the expired. A super walk today, Frank

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I like shells, though I am not a sheller, as you say. I like particularly those beaches made of shells, white pebbles, which hide colorful smooth pieces of glass. They remind me of my childhood in the South of Italy, when I spent my time collecting them and the beautiful, calming effect of the sound of the waves.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Stefy,
      Amazing how beaches differ around the world … let alone beaches in close proximity. I few years ago, the stones on the beach near Viareggio fascinated me. Although I’ve seen stony beaches in the US, I never seen anything like it before. Amazing!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m not a sheller either, Frank. Which is just as well since the local beach doesn’t yield much. But I do have a few I’ve found, though nothing special. I’m more inclined to pick up stones. Oh how they sparkle and glow when wet. How dull they are when dry! And I keep them all

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Crispina,
      As we know, beaches differ from beach to beach in many ways. Not many stones where we winter. On the other hand, I recall beaches in Italy – talk about stones! Wow – and I would be collecting stones there. Including marble washed ashore!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Our local foreshore is sparse on both… but it is down the coast from the Jet fields, and across the waves from the amber-trees. So the eyes are every watchful. But most often it’s sand-tumbled green glass or rust-stained quartz

        Liked by 1 person

  6. What shell I say?
    I can’t help picking up a few shells along the way. I take them home, and add them to my clutter, which I’m constantly decluttering.
    Your walks do bring many things to mind. Oft, they can be very abstract, but thats cool. Each shell is an abstract of nature, like snowflakes.
    I was raised in the prairies, and not sure when I saw my first shell. It was probably in a gold fish bowl.
    My first solid shell memory is the tongue twister: “She sells sea shells by the sea shore”.
    Thank you for the lovely walk, Frank!

    Liked by 1 person

              1. Yes, I know Lemoncello!
                So..it’s something like that?
                I get headaches from all alcohol, except red wine. So, I drink lots of that!
                I also get headaches from soft drinks.
                ❦👻❦☠️❦😈❦👻❦☠️❦😈

                Like

    1. Jo,
      Horray – finally – a sheller is in the house – it cheers to you endorsing the video! I’m with you about shells bring the beach to life. I notice when their numbers are low and when they are plentiful. Oh what a difference they can make.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Lovely walk, Frank. 🙂 I used to collect shells physically. Now I just take photos of them once in a while (unless I’m picking up something interesting for one of my grandchildren).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Robin,
      Glad you enjoyed the walk and thanks for sharing a personal experience. Any more, unless the shell is very unique, I don’t even bring them back to the unit – let alone home. But we do have a collection at home from other years – along with some stones from an Italian beach.

      Like

  8. When I was growing up, we used to go to Sanibel Island, Florida every so often. It was, and maybe still is, one of the top shelling beaches in the US and we did get lots of shells. There was something called “The Sanibel Bends”, the posture of people walking along looking for shells. 🙂 I still have some of those shells.

    One of the things I like about walking along the water’s edge is how the retreating waves pull the sand out just a bit from under my feet. It’s such an interesting feeling.

    I enjoyed both your videos/soundtracks today.

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janet,
      Although I haven’t been to Sanibel, I know its reputation for shelling – but haven’t heard about The Sanibel Bends. Well named! 🙂

      I’m with you about the feeling of the sand below the feet during a retreating wave. To me, it seems to only happen for a wave or two – but not sure why. Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed the videos because the selection of videos is something I put time and effort into. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This post is beautifully written Frank. I noticed the way you describe aspects of the sea and the importance of shells gained momentum as I read. I also noticed parallels between the unseen biodiversity of the sea with that of the garden – two world – earth and sea – as you aptly described them. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joanne,
      Thank you for the kind words. You point about the momentum is something I never consider – so thanks. On the other hand, making connections to other aspects of the living world or in our life is something I try to do – or at least stimulate one to think about it.

      I question for you. I know you study creative writing. Me – I’m not a trained writer, but one you enjoys writing. I ask because I don’t know. Do these walks qualify as creative writing?

      Like

      1. Oh yes, this is definitely creative writing, Frank. My first thought was that your writing is creative nonfiction, which is defined on Wikipedia as “a genre of writing that uses literary styles and techniques to create factually accurate narratives”. The “factual” element is the sea and the shells, while your thoughts are the creative side of the writing. But having said that, possibly your posts are more accurately described as “memoirs”, because you are describing the way you feel. In this post, for example, you use the rhetorical device of anaphora – “I am not a sheller” to emphasise a personal point. Creative writing is an extremely broad term defined by a multitude of genres, both factual and imagined, but what your write is definitely creative and very beautiful.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Beautiful… I love shells and I have a little collection too… Sea is another world… How beautiful walking through these words… Thank you dear Frank, Love, nia

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Since I remember, I was a shell collector! Actually, for at least 40 years I used to buy them, search them in the dawn, when nobody was still around on the beaches…
    But last decade or so, since it’s forbidden to collect shells, I stoped. I don’t buy them either. But, as you do, I enjoy looking at them when I have the occasion. Actually, living in Switzerland and during “these unfortunate days”, I’m stuck here.
    Fortunately, I have a good fantasy and many pictures of my past trips. I have to be happy with it.
    Hugs :-)c

    PS. the shell of a scallop is as well the embleme for the Pelegrims of St.Jakob of Compostela…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Claudine,
      Cheers to another sheller! Glad I was able to ignite a love from your memory. Shells have so much beauty when one takes the time to notice. I find it interesting how the eyes can pick out one in a cluster when walking by. May your future take you back to the beach so you can again participate in something that gives you joy. Thanks for sharing your personal story.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. It’s taken me all this time to comment, because it’s taken me all this time to square the space to read your lovely reflective piece. So many thoughts, turning in so many different directions and prompted by a simple shelter and home!

    Like

    1. Margaret,
      Thank you. Your comment was short, but it struck me because I try to be reflective & stimulate thinking. The mind is truly impressive when it can do that with such a simple thought. You definitely caused me to smile during my Sunday night.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I smiled at your description of discarded shells as homes for hermit crabs who are willing to carry them around like used shopping carts. Growing up near our little beach my children never tired of collecting hermit crabs for their sand “farms” and then letting them go at the end of the day. My daughter couldn’t wait to show her daughter all about it when they came up for a visit the summer before last. I’m not a sheller but I have a few pretty ones. My aunt collected hundreds of them. She loved to go to Sanibel Island in Florida for that purpose. Thank you for the leisurely stroll and thoughtful musings along your shelly beach.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Barbara,
      Oh my … your comment is at least the second (maybe the third) mentioning Sanibel! Although I haven’t been there, I know it’s a beach haven for shellers. Loved your hermit crab story, so I’m happy thought stimulated your memory. Thanks for sharing. Where we go is a wonderful beach for walking. Sure I see shells along my journey. Interestingly, and I don’t know why, the number of shells seemed to be down last year. Thanks for joining me on my leisurely stroll on the sand.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Well, I am a simple sheller. They don’t have to be fancy, but I don’t think I have ever walked on a beach without bringing back at least one. They are scattered in odd places in my house. Your post reminds me of Anne Lindbergh’s book “Gift from the Sea” somehow. Thoughtful post…you could become a sheller.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jo,
      Cheers to enjoying your simple version of shelling. For me, I can say that the wheels caught my attention the most during the first year. I recall creating a color continuum/gradient as something to do. One thing for sure, I was noticing a lot of shells! But in future years, my eyes we trying to catch something unique. Not sure what, but would know it when I saw it. Glad you thought this post to be thoughtful. 🙂

      Like

  15. Though you say you are not a sheller, you have indeed chosen to share the perfect gems of the shell world, as in your perspectives. I too have wondered in awe multiple times, of the vast deep of the ocean world and how often we tend to live on this side of the world as if oblivious that the other exists. It is incredibly unimaginable what lies in those depths and yet just being near the surface renews our mind, body and soul.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. When I was little, my family would walk along the Gulf Coast, and we kids would hunt for shells. I loved how different the sand felt on my feet, compared to walking on grass or concrete! Thank you, Frank, for stirring in me such lovely memories — and there’s nothing quite so relaxing as listening to the tides, is there?!?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Debbie,
      Many of us have beach memories, and it seems readers enjoy sharing them here … and I like that. 🙂 To others, the walks stimulate memories. Either way, I’m a happy camper, so thanks for sharing a bit of yours.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Meezer,
      Hooray – another beach walker, but this time a sand dollar collector. When she was alive, my mother-in-law also loved sand dollars. I’ve got the feeling your eyes were trained to spot them. 🙂 What is the size of the largest one you have found that is whole?

      Like

    1. Emily,
      Welcome first-time walker on my beach. How did you find out about my beach? With this being walk #4, you are early – so I invite you to revisit the previous three. Right now I’m posting on Tuesdays and Saturdays – and will soon expand into Thursdays. Hope you return.

      Like

  17. Soothing sounds of the ocean, Frank. I’m not a sheller either, but I have helped my kids and grandkids collect a few shell mementos from various beach holidays. They are all so beautiful and varied. We visited the national shell museum near Fort Myers a few years ago. It was absolutely wonderful to see all the shell creations on display there.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I dig how you give us that video at the top to walk with, gotta say.

    As for nature and creation, I like how you put that and I do agree with your opinion that they are in fact, one and the same. Walking inside of the creation that IS nature, and taking in the mysterious and beautiful design of it all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Marc,
      Having ocean sounds at the beginning for those who want it has been a good addition. The idea came to me about a week before the launch.

      Thanks for catching the nature/creation reference. That’s my science & religion side coming out. I remember being very careful with the wording.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I’ve found myself seeking out lovely shells. Bring them home, put them in a jar and never look at them again. Seriously, what up with that? I think it adds to the meditative quality of walking on the beach while seeking out said beauties. Your mind empties of everything else.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dale,
      I can relate to both of your points … yep about the collective and yes about the meditative quality of the time. Perfect. Once I realized I had plenty at home, the shell better be unique for me to bring it home.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Hi Frank,
    like the way your sections started with “I am not a sheller” and then expounded – and both videos were a great fit

    I just bought my daughter-n-law a dozen real seashell napkin holders. They are gorgeous and she likes beauty things – and you are right – they are “nature’s ceramic”
    and I like how you also noted that seashells are
    “a natural treasure humanity historically used as coins, buttons, and tools.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yvette,
      Glad you enjoyed my reoccurring phrase. What I tried to do with “I am not a sheller” is point out the fact that I’m not a collector but I notice a lot of things about them – therefore, others can too if they take the time to look. Cheers to the beauties that you see in nature’s ceramics, and hopefully your daughter-in-law treasures that napkin holders for a long time. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Frank, I did get that message loud and clear – not a sheller but then see so much about the shells – how they have their presence on the beach and then many other tidbits – but thanks for noting it in case I missed it

        and the napkin rings, well it is rare to find a set with a dozen – they felt like glass – and I do hope she likes them – I have not heard back from her yet as they were a recent gift – but i always give permission to regift if someone wants to –

        and from a September trip to the beach I brought home some pieces of coral. Beautiful and I know i should not take it – and will bring it back in the winter – lol – but it also made me sad because I heard increasing scuba divers and tourism is negatively impacting the coral = hmmm

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I knew you got the connection, but just wanted to explain what was in my head. I’ve encountered some shellers who can spot bits of coral on the beach, along with some other wonders. But the pieces we commonly picture? Nope … got to get those at a souvenir store. Meanwhile – I can see how an industry has a negative effect. … and all for the sake of money. 😦

          Liked by 1 person

  21. Beautiful and serene, Frank. Perfect for the “day after” and all the chaos. I like to picture myself walking on the beautiful beach in your photos. When I was a child, long before there was any awareness or understanding of ecological concern, we used to bring home abalone and other beautiful shells, with live animals. Such wanton ignorance. Fortunately, now the beaches are much better protected. But wonderful places to observe and “de-stressify.”

    Your post didn’t make it into my inbox, Frank. I’m not sure why, but I’ll keep checking. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Debra,
      Serene is so important for the day after – even more so as we wait and head into a round of advanced craziness. Yesterday, I didn’t have any news on the TV until the 6:15 pm weather report! Yep – I listened to calm music most of my day.

      Thanks for sharing a bit of your childhood with your story about the beach and shells. Regardless if one grew up near a beach or miles away from one, beach memories have a way of sticky with us. One thing that doesn’t change is it’s “de-stressing” ability.

      So the WP gnomes are at it again. One never knows when and where those pesky things appear. For know, I’m posting Tuesdays and Saturday (1 AM my time) – and expanding into Thursdays is on the very near horizon. That said, #5 (Sand) is up.

      Glad you got some time to stop by. Hang in there! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Sue,
      Touche to you describing me as a sheller. I remember that my first year as a snowbird, my eyes were noticing many tiny differences while passing by them – and then I started to stop to take a closer look. My eyes widened. Of course, my biology background helped. That’s what sparked this walk. Bottom line is simply – the world has much to offer to those who take time to look.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. My kids are total shellers 🙂 Especially my daughter. We go searching and searching it’s her postcard for memories. Each trip is a new memory so a new shell. She checks out the patterns and colors and the feel of each one. And we begin to tell stories of how that particular shell traveled everywhere and what adventures it must have had to get where we are. Shells are definitely storytellers. Plus I’ve got to tell you that I’m really enjoying the videos at the beginning of each post. Totally set the mood and bring me with you on your walks. Wherever I am the sound of the ocean brings me Zen

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Guat,
      Cheers to your kids being shellers – especially your daughter. Examining the details of patterns and color is a good thing – which also help her understand the meaning of biodiversity. Thanks for letting me know you enjoy the videos. My intent of the first video is to provide background sounds while reading – but the latter is my pride and joy because I see it as a capstone to the walk. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Biodiversity I always love when they learn without even thinking about it, those are the lessons that stick with them the longest. Plus the background ocean as I’m reading, your intent is totally appreciated! Totally!

        Like

  23. Hello Frank! I’m glad I stopped by, this is really beautiful – the beach, the video, the walk and your reflections❣️

    Like

    1. Sling,
      Welcome first time walker and thanks for stopping by to walk along. This is a typical walk … meaning they follow this pattern, but the topics are different. This one is #4 of 6 so far – so it’s easy to catch up (well … if you want – but not required). Next walk is on Tuesday). Where are you located?

      Like

      1. Hey Frank I wandered from Restless Jo’s to yours, virtually yes I had a look at your other walks, else I’m nowhere in Ohio. Keep those walks going. Cheers!

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.