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Stories by Mike Humfreville

Shells    ( Posted April 12, 2006 )

There have been times, many times in my life, perhaps in the lives of many of us, where I've looked into the past - immediate, midterm and way so long ago - and seen mistakes I have made. It amazes me that nature has permitted this grievance; errors are not well tolerated by her. She has been kind to so many species but not me and mine? While I have failed perhaps to merge into natural surroundings I have also failed to integrate Nature into my complete consideration.

Can I fix that, my less-than-perfect alignment with a mother I never knew I had? Not likely. Until today anyway.

Our son, Kevin, and his dear friend Carly (how many of us actually have dear friends?) joined us for too few days in Bahia de Los Angeles. I had fun, Mary Ann had fun, the kids had fun. It was as close to perfect as one can get.

We shared our space, continued our lives private and communal, and spent perfect days in and around the bay. One day we ventured up to our best camping place, La Gringa.

In our lives I can't accurately count the days, weeks, months, my family has spent at La Gringa. But I'll save that for yet another story and get on to the point of this one. Carly wanted to make a seashell-covered picture frame. It was a relatively small frame and thus we needed small shells to cover it. And Mary Ann and the boys and Carly know the beaches there. There are many varied beach formations; always yielding sand and smooth, rounded beach stones, and dangerous sharp lava.

We walk the shores of Baja sometimes, seeking seashells. We scan the sands or shuffle the stones of the beach in search of a small treasure we can take home to admire. We place our shells in a prominent place on a mantle, a table, or to form a part of a picture frame, clustered together with a hundred other similar objects.

Our son, Kevin, and his good friend Carly came down from the States to Bahia de Los Angeles for some quality time. Our kids have spent meaningful moments at the bay and know it well. They wanted to go out from the village to La Gringa to find some smaller shells. Carly wanted to adorn a picture frame with these. We drove down the road to the northern end of the bay and their favorite gravel beach.

For some time we sat on the smooth, round stones of the beach, worn by weather, and we shuffled the stones in search of shells hidden beneath. There are many there, tiny objects that you gaze upon and wonder just such a thing could house a sea-beast. Regardless, we gathered just a small amount for Carly's picture frame and headed back over the heavily washboarded road to our home south of the village.

I was thinking about shells. Our world is filled with them. Sometimes we just don't think about shells as they evolved. We all have shells in one form or another. Shells are the protections we build against our perceived or real aggressions against us. Without our shells we would be vulnerable and at risk. In an ideal world we would not need shells. But we do.

How can we help our world grow?

And then I question the validity of my question. What would our world be without seashells?

Copyright 2003-2006 Mike Humfreville

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