South Padre shells

At the end of my month off blogging, my husband and I took a trip to South Padre Island.

South Padre Island

I did bring my computer, but I didn’t use it except for one work email. I brought my poetry journal but didn’t even open it. Mostly I watched birds and waves and collected shells—177 of them.

When I was a child and our family went to the beach, I collected shells, but I don’t remember finding them in this many colors. Forty-two are autumn shells: yellows and browns and even a little orange. Another 16 looked black when I picked them up, but they’ve dried to gray. Two dozen are striped blues. Thirty-one are more traditional white and variations of white. All the shells I just described are what’s known as Atlantic Cockles, although I also have several broken abalones.

“What are you going to do with those?” my husband asked.

I still don’t know. It just seemed important to save them. It was our first trip alone in two-and-a-half years, our first time to go to the coast by ourselves. I can’t save the sound of the waves or the smell of the salt, but I can save these shells.

Unfortunately, I do not own a glue gun or any crafting materials that could be used to make the shells cute. I really don’t do cute. I can write a poem about things, but I don’t know what to do with actual things I can hold in my hands.

Maybe no one else would find my shells as spectacular as I do. If they were in a museum, the exhibit would be labeled “Common Texas Gulf Coast Shells.” But I found each one. I got more sun while bent over the sand, picking up shells, than I did in the water. I can remember finding the speckled one, the one with three hues of gray, the one that looks like a latte—complete with a milky swirl. They’re mine. I’ll figure out something.




  1. I suggest a a bowl or long low tray filled with sand and a selection of shells where you can mindlessly sift to your heart’s content.

    I’m glad you found a little rest. And now I’m just going to walk through the screen and down that path to the beach in your header. Love you big, friend.

  2. It’s good to see your words again.

  3. You know how I feel about shells. Keep them all (I like Sandra’s suggestion). In a way, I prefer the humble, ordinary ones over the perfect specimens.

  4. I have a box full of shells because I just can’t resist them. I picked out a few and put them in a little glass ring-holder by my sink. They look right pretty in the pink glass 🙂

  5. Find a container that you love – a basket works well – and pour them into it. Set it out on a table somewhere where you can see it often. They are great, tactile memory markers. So, SO glad you had a good time.

  6. I like this: “I really don’t do cute.”

  7. Reading this post? The warmest I’ve felt all day. 🙂

  8. ‘Maybe no one else would find my shells as spectacular as I do. If they were in a museum, the exhibit would be labeled “Common Texas Gulf Coast Shells.”’