I cannot go the beach without returning with something in my pocket......
And this is where my shell collection gets housed; in the drawer of an old table,
and in various driftwood boxes. This lovely little selection of seaweed, shells, sea urchin and crab claws all came from beaches on The Scilly Isles. I am always careful to pick up just a few here and there and not take too many.
Have you read 'Gift from the Sea' by Anne Morrow Lindbergh? (Wife of the aviator Charles Lindbergh) It will change your outlook on life.
'One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can only collect a few, and they are more beautiful if they are few. One moon shell is more impressive than three. There is only one moon in the sky. Gradually one discards and keeps just the perfect specimen; not necessarily a rare shell, but a perfect one of its kind.'
Other delights for the dedicated beachcomber are smoothed, shaped bits of driftwood, some with fragments of paint still attached,
and sherds of old china with Victorian patterns; blue and white are my favourite.
Smooth, rounded pieces of sea-glass, each one a slightly different hue, opaque yet translucent. For how many years have they been tumbled in the maelstrom of wave and rock and sand? A little girl came into the shop once and on opening up her hand, showed me her precious bits of sea-glass. "They're mermaid's tears" she said.
I have a particular fondness for pure white shells.
To A Wave
Flash in sparkling bells
O'er the colour'd stones and tiny shells;
With low music lave
Flood the glassy pool,
Sway the foliage 'neath its crystal cool........"
Tiny cowrie shells are the ultimate shellseekers' delight. One has to train the eye in to find these minute pink beauties!
Fragments of sea urchin, they look almost space-age!
I have just completed some new shell collages; this one is in palest pinks, creams and whites.
Underneath each carefully chosen shell, pebble, piece of seaweed, is written a word from the poem 'Sleep', by A.S.J.Tessimond:
"The ring and rim
Of tidal sleep
Will slip and creep
Along my limbs
And I shall watch,
But never catch
The final change,
And through what caves
Beneath what waves
I then shall go
I shall not know,
For I shall come
From that lost land
With, in my hand,
A fish's head,
A shell, a shred
Of seaweed and
'The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach - waiting for a gift from the sea.'
Anne Morrow Lindbergh