I'm fascinated by the shells with battle scars and missing parts, sculptures of nature full of texture hinting at encounters with predators and storms. Often, a particular type of shell will dominate the beach, as if a city of those creatures' homes was swept up and spewed out, minus its residents. Whatever kind is most prevalent on any given day changes with the tides, seasons, weather. Some days offer an abundance of ocean treasures, and sometimes we do a lot of walking for very little. In the gathering and sorting, I'm learning (or re-learning) some lessons.
2) Purpose matters. Early on we figured out the delicate scallop shells are not practical for outside landscaping. They can easily be blown around or broken. I might select a few pretty lightweight shells for my indoor collection, but we mostly garner those that are rugged enough to stay where we put them.
3) Lack of knowledge can be harmful. During one walk the beach was filled with sand dollars. I was entranced; usually if I found one, it was broken. I scooped up only as many as my hands could hold; I didn't want to put them into a bag where they might break. Once home, I laid them out carefully on a towel to dry. Within days, their color changed from sandy to chalky, and holes formed in the middle of each. A few minutes of internet research confirmed my horrible suspicion: I'd taken live sand dollars. And killed them. The remains of those sea martyrs are where I see them daily, silent reminders that ignorance has consequences.
G and I continue to harvest shells from our local beach. We also have several small indoor collections of sea souveniers gathered during recent travels. Regardless of where each shell comes from, or where at our home each now resides, each made the journey from seaside to home in our hands, bags, buckets, and vehicle. Together they're forming a sea quilt of moments worth remembering.