For me there are two great restorative sources in the world - the sea and the sun. When my cup runs empty these are the things I need, the gentle caress of a warm sunbeam, the meditative comfort of the waves breaking on the shore. Today as I sit and type I am blessed by the first and the latter is almost replaced by the whistling of the wind in the trees around our garden. The repeated surges are so similar I could almost believe myself lost inside a wave, caught up in the cresting spindrift being tugged along to the shore. I think I would like to be washed up by the waves, a shell or a piece of driftwood, if I could land at last on a warm sunny day and be taken home to be treasured by a kindred spirit.
Maybe I dream of being someone else's beach treasure because I so like to collect things at the shore myself. This is a habit that has clearly rubbed off on my children to my husband's despair when our garage is full of buckets of pebbles, shells and seaweed!* We have a few rules about collecting most importantly not to be greedy. Although the general conclusion of this article is that beach combers are not responsible for changes in seaside ecosystems it does encourage us to err on the side of caution and limit what we put in our pockets. Often I encourage our children to pick one or two things from what's caught their interest and leave the rest behind. To make this process smoother we often make Land Art with our finds at the beach and photograph it, thus creating a visual souvenir of all the beautiful things we found. The photo below shows shells and crabs collected over many trips to the beach which we are in the process of cleaning and sorting.
Sometimes I leave what I found in my pockets because the joy of coming across it unexpectedly weeks or months later when I wear those clothes again is great. A tiny coiled white shell found in the depths of the pockets of my favourite yellow dress on a rainy day in the city has been known to keep me smiling for the rest of the day. Such good medicine.
*accumulated over several trips usually because we are lazy about sorting our finds.