A Shell-fish Habit

"By scummed, starfish sands
With their fishwife cross
Gulls, pipers, cockles, and snails…

…and herons, and shells
That speak seven seas…"
—Dylan Thomas 'Prologue'

I collect shells.  So does boyfriend.  Many times, when he's finished with his surfing, we'll both scour the shore, looking for any tidbits the sea has been willing to part with.  Once they are free of the nurturing tides, they're at our mercy: to either be scooped up or stepped on by the greedy or clumsy beach combers.  Sometimes I come across a fragment – crushed by a thoughtless step, or broken against the rocks in a fit of oceanic pique – so fine that I accept it anyway.

So I'll admit that I'm rather greedy:



But I'm also careful.  I'll always make sure there are no…inhabitants.  I don't want to tread on anyone's real estate.  The last thing I want to do is kick one of Claude's relatives out of their home.


I'm convinced that the ocean loves her shells.  I believe that she loves to watch her pretty baubles as they tumble along her currents.  She loves their shapes, colors and patterns:  their endless individuality.  And she is loath to part with them.  Many times I'll be splashing through the water, buffalo-like, after a scallop, or a Queen Tegula, when suddenly the tide would turn – literally – as if the ocean was saying:  “Not quite…this one is a little too splendid for me to part with just yet.”


And so I must be content to wait.

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12 responses to “A Shell-fish Habit

  1. I do miss the ocean.

  2. i love the way you describe the ocean.

  3. Oooo! I love to collect goodies….shells, rocks, coral pieces, anything special! What a wonderful thought to realize the ocean doesn't give them up until she is ready!Reminds me, Claude needs a few bigger homes to choose from!

  4. beautiful! Your description is so beautiful and poetic, Aubrey. It makes me sad that I haven't visited the ocean in years.

  5. I'm lucky to live on the boardwalk down here in San Diego, and you're right – nothing quite like a calming early morning stroll, fingers chilled from touching the sand, a handful of shells or sand dollars in your pockets.

  6. Lovely description, Aubrey. I grew up not far from the sea … oh, I so want to be near an ocean now.[snif]

  7. i used to live in OB and there is nothing like living by the beach. I miss it so much. I would rather live with my hubby but i miss being able to run down to the beach anytime day or night.

  8. Lauri: That's the way I've always felt about the ocean and her shells. It seemed to make such pretty sense.
    LM: Do you think the brothers would put their feet in the water?
    PantherQu33n: I was in San Diego years ago – I remember evenings when people would go to the wharf to shine flashlights into the water, to see what they could see. One light found a sting ray, taking a slow, leisurely flight through the water.
    (hands hankie to SubH)
    roisin: Boyfriend used to live near Palos Verdes, and misses that too – only he'd be running down to the beach with surfboard in tow.

  9. At least bf wouldn't be running with surfboard in toe. That would hurt.

  10. thats a lovely hobby…one could make jewelery out of them..

  11. It's funny that you mention that. Today I wore a choker that I made: a strip of knitted lace wrapped around my neck, and dangling from it was a single pink cockle shell that I found. It had a perfect hole drilled into its base (by some predatory snail)…all I had to do was put a few gold links through it, attach it to the fabric, and then wear it!

  12. Wow, whoda thunk that predatory snails would know you wanted that for your necklace???

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