To Each His Own

While we lived off the coast of North Carolina on Hatteras Island, I took long walks on the beach every day. Our dogs ran up and down, I watched the ocean constantly change, I looked for shells. I still have most of those shells, although they’re a little out of place here in the high desert of Eastern Washington. There were a lot of different kinds but what I really longed to find was a Scotch Bonnet, not only a uniquely beautiful shell but the designated shell of that state. I happened to mention to a visiting friend, how I had looked for years and still had never found one. I couldn’t believe it when he reached into the water right then and there and asked, “You mean one of these?” Just like that. That Scotch Bonnet shell was passed back and forth between our two families over the years, each being allowed to keep it for a certain period of time before it had to be returned to the other. I thought I had that particular Scotch Bonnet but it turns out he has one too, and now neither of us can remember which is the original. I’m just grateful I didn’t resort to buying one, as I did with a Lake Superior agate when I couldn’t find one. When we first lived on the island, I mentioned to one of the local teenagers, how I loved all the shells that came ashore. “That’s nothing,” he told me. “Sometimes after a big storm, all sorts of things wash up. Even televisions!” Never mind that a television would likely be useless after pounding around in waves, not to mention the salt water. I guess if you live your whole life on a barrier island, finding a Scotch Bonnet is no big deal.

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