Blog Your Blessings Sunday: the World at Your Feet

The best view at the beach is neither up nor around but down at the shells and fragments of shells tossed and beaten into translucent and beautiful gems. Gnarled and lumpy oyster shells become smooth as a child's cheek and the spot of indigo, a mysterious eye that never stops looking deep into the sea floor. Clams require fewer tosses of the wave to become beautiful, and they do. The lines of dried foam that mark the last high tide tell the history of the world.

I always follow this line in search of a perfect snail shell, though my greater hope is to find a whelk shell that is not broken. I have succeeded many a time with the former. I have discovered the places to look for such things--at the end of the line near rocks, where the sand never has the chance to dry completely at low tide, far from the traffic of the feet of small beachcombers.

There are always the very small ones to find just by crouching down and looking. These simple life forms take the elements found in the sea, along with our sludge and raw sewerage and luncheon debris, and spin with magic until they create a work of great beauty. The beach nearest my home offers up shells that are rust colored or the blue-black of soft mud. They are marvelous.

I can't keep them. In the past I have brought home buckets of shells, washed them, left them in the sun to dry, and admired them in a Mason jar. And then what? After a time, I have tossed them along the edges of my garden as ornaments. Children come along, admire them, steal them, toss them aside on the way home. I simply transpose the kitchen midden of the sea from the shore to the suburbs. It's not satisfying.

The pleasure is in finding the shells, not keeping them. So I leave them behind. Even when I found an intact whelk shell, I left it behind. It was a cold and windy day in March, and an older man was resting against the breakwater while his wife studied the bed of shells for things to her liking. Wearing grey, they blended with the sand and water to the point of invisibility. They spoke to each other in a foreign language. There I found a smooth whelk shell, it's spiral perfect, its wide opening pearlescent, the edge of the shell a smooth and curving line. I was so thrilled, I jumped. I showed my husband and my daughter, who paused from their own searches to admire my discovery.

The older man smiled; I offered him the shell. "Danke," he said. "You're welcome," I replied. I stood up straight. I was satisfied. I had found a perfect shell the same color as the sky, the sea, the sand, the old man's cap. There could be nothing more or better beyond the horizon.


  1. Anonymous11:38 PM

    Funny how the shell game is the hunt and nothing more...perhaps because there are so many o one kind sometimes.

    I find there are always one or two I feel like I'd like to bring home. But if I lose them on the way back to the car, so be it. No sleep to be lost.

    So what if I actually strained my neck looking because I was searching so hard. The view and the joy and the common task was what was worth it.

  2. We manage to bring home more than we realize!

  3. This is a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing it Sandy, and Happy BYB Sunday!

  4. Sandy,
    Reading your post made me feel as I was right there with you. The good Lord has blessed you with a beautiful and inspiring talent that you are using wonderfully! Happy BYB Sunday!

  5. I have been to the beach only a couple of times, but I have loved it each time.

    Happy BYB Sunday and have a great week ahead.

  6. Anonymous1:54 PM

    This post really made me smile - last night I emptied out my collection of shells and stones from Ibiza so my daughter could use our case on her own travels.

    I suspect they will join the growing collection in the garden.

    Happy BYB Sunday.

  7. Sandy, I love your writing. I feel like you are sitting here, drinking a cup of tea with me.

    You brightened that man's day and polished his outlook on inhabitant's of this Earth. That's quite a lot for one small shell.

    I too, collect them. I put them under my rainwater downspouts. In a thousand years, they will wonder how these sea creatures journeyed 300 miles inland.

    Have a wonderful week.

  8. Seashells are the most amazing creation by God. I held them up to my ear as a child and imagined the ocean in the Midwest...and still love to do this! Great post!

  9. Anonymous4:41 PM

    Beautiful post, Sandy. We live near the beach and it's amazing just how many shells follow us home. ;) I have my favorites I keep, others usually get used by the kids in some art project or put out in the garden somewhere.

    Happy BYB Sunday! My BYB post is finally up. Thanks for visiting me.

  10. Anonymous11:13 PM

    Beautiful Sandy, as usual. Thanks for writing this.

  11. Thanks for stopping by. Sorry I didn't write a BYB Sunday post but I have had internet problems all week. I am writing this on my niece's computer.


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