Gorgeous, perfect shells wash into some beaches so often the inhabitants of those shores line their window ledges and gardens with the gifts from the sea.
Other beaches are stingy with such offerings. I found these lovely, fragile shells at Venice Beach in California. It is not a shell beach. Often it's shore break pounds the sand and what little is left is broken. But on one walk I picked up all these, including the tiny angel wings at the bottom of the photo. I felt like a kid on an Easter egg hunt to have found so many treasures in one day.
And it happened during November when I was writing the beginning of my new novel that takes place in the sea. I happily added this sign to others popping up around me--a license plate in front of me with two mermaids, a kelp forest sheet of stamps and others. But the one I made a big deal about was the tiny, worn sea shell I found on an inland mountain.
Yesterday, I solved the mystery of the shell so far from the ocean. And, phooey, it isn't magical but mundane.
I was hiking up a side trail made of decomposed granite. The same one where I found the shell. A rainstorm had roared through the day before and eroded the trail, so there were new gullies. As I walked, I saw another shell! I dug it out of the damp earth, amazed. And then I saw another! And another.
As the evidence mounted and I picked up a handful of discolored, tough old shells, I had a dawning realization.
Sandbags. Of course. Sometimes the park workers put sandbags along the trails to keep them from eroding. The shells had probably been in bags that disintegrated over time.
Well, darn. I was deflated and put down my handful of collected shells and snapped another photo. But just as I was chiding myself for believing in signs and portents, I thought, it doesn't matter how the shells got here. I've been hiking this mountain for years and never saw a shell until November, and now I see dozens.
It is a sign for me to believe in me--in my curiosity, my imagination, my desire to be open to whatever comes my way.
What do you think? Are there nudges from the universe, or do we see what we want to see?