When I was little, it seemed to me that my aunt and uncle were often on holiday, usually somewhere warm. Usually they would bring back little presents for the kids upon their return. Once, they gave me a bunch of seashells in an empty plastic Dairy Queen ice cream container. I called it my shell collection, though it wasn’t really a collection since I never collected more, considering I have never been to the ocean. However, this shell collection provided hours and hours of entertainment for me. I saw each shell as a character in a little world I created with them. The snail-like shells became a family (a rather large one at that).
This one became the Snail Family’s dog. To me, it looked like one of those shaggy mop-like dogs.
These two shells, the almost-biggest in my collection, became the Mayor and Vice Mayor. (The Mayor was corrupt. Even at a young age, I saw the truth about politicians… ;) )
These shells I thought looked like some kind of woven saddle blankets or something, so they became a tribe of what I called “Indian Blankets”. The big yellow one was their chief. I think his name was Chief Big Sun or something like that.
The oyster shells were a communtity in themselves. The biggest one was their king. His daughter was named Pearl, and she was the smallest, shiniest, pearly-est one I had. The mothers would keep their children underneath them. I had them all arranged in families, but it’s hard to tell them apart now.
This family was called the Spineys. They had a single mom.
This family was well-to-do. They were called the Spiral-Noses.
Then, surely inspired by the Island of Misfit Toys, I had a little group of “misfit” shells, ones that were too unique to fit into any of the other groups.
You may wonder what prompted this blast from the past. Well, it was a combination of two things. One, I just went through my room and boxed up a lot of my old stuff: trophies, first communion stuff, etc. I wanted to update my shelves and kind of re-decorate without really making a drastic change. So I put some stuff away, rearranged a bit, and it looks much better now.
Secondly, the DHFs got back from their trip to Florida. And… they brought me shells!! :D
In a cool jar, too!!
So I was looking at them today, lining them up, examining their detail and simple beauty. And my brain just slipped right back into that old habit, that old way of looking at everything as a character, a creature, a group. I saw hamsters, seals, misfits, oysters, grey-clouds… It was fun, remembering the old stories and adventures I had with shells.
My new mason-jar shell collection now sits proudly on my dresser. Whenever I miss or think of the DHFs (which is often), I glance over there and see the glass jar, the varnished shells reflecting sunlight back to me. (Yes, the sun has returned to Ohio! I love the sun!) And whenever I want to, I can take the shells out, spread them across my bedroom floor, and remember that the simplest things can be the most wonderful and fun, and that I’m not too old to have seashell adventures.