Summer School :: Seashells

As a young girl, one of my family's favorite pastimes was to go shelling on our Florida shores. We combed Jacksonville beach regularly during a time when it was being dredged and the shells were amazingly abundant. We vacationed and camped on the beaches of Fort Meyers, Sanibel & Captiva, Siesta Key, Key Largo and Marco Island, and collected shells from each one.

However, as I got older and shelling was no longer the highlight of family vacations, I forgot about the magic of our collection. My mother did not; she kept them all. A few years back, I discovered the plastic tub full of "old shells" when helping my parents with a move. And I teased my mom over her collection, completely forgetting my part in it. But two weeks ago, as I began a seashell unit as part of my girls' summer school-at-home curriculum, I remembered that old bin of shells. And sheepishly, I asked if we could have a few for art projects.
As I dug through the mass of shells, memories came rushing back to me. Memories of my mother, my sister, family trips. I knew each of these treasures intimately, I remembered the thrill of finding them in the sand and surf. I recalled the fun of learning their delightful names, like sharks eyes, kittens paws and turkey wings. I remembered the way shells like jingles, olives and slippers sparked my childhood imagination. I looked my mother straight in the eye and apologized for ridiculing "her" collection. And then I asked to bring them home.

Over the past two weeks, I've sat with my girls on a sheet spread out on the floor, covered in my family shell collection. I've watched as they discovered and explored each shell for themselves. We've sorted them into piles and relearned their names. We've painted some...
...and made some into shell creatures.
We've glued them on picture frames and made plans for more and more projects.
Our nature table and project spaces are covered in shells.
And for the first time in the years I've been visiting Shell Beach with my gals, I took them on an official shelling walk. The shells we found weren't the beauties that graced the beaches of my childhood. But they held their own charm and delighted my treasure seekers. And that old, familiar magic of the hunt was alive, filling the salty air and feeding the soul of two young girls, and one still young at heart.

Thank you, Mother.... I am eternally grateful for all you have shared and preserved, and all you continue to teach me.


marcy said...

You continue to amaze me with your wisdom and joy for life. I am so glad my two little "grand girls" are experiencing all these things with you, as did I with you and your sister. There is so much to share.
Congratulations on such a beautiful, inspiring and touching post........
and......I forgive you! HA!
Love, Mother

Ernee said...

What an amazing tradition. How awesome that your mother saved those shells. I love the pics of the owl and the island. Great post.

Rose said...

An amazing collection indeed. Thank you both for sharing a few with me!

Kangaroo said...

Wow. I'm crying. Beautiful.

elizabeth ~ so wabi sabi said...

I love when we can take things from our past and weave it into our present life. That itself is like finding treasure. I love all the projects you have been able to create from your found treasure.

and thank you for the very beautiful quote you left on my blog today...georgia okeeffe is a favorite of mine.