The permanence of a handful of tiny white shells


When I see the small white canister covered in scrollwork on my shelf I know what's inside--tiny little seashells as big as my pinky fingernail. All of them are a pearly white except one.

This little canister has been around for as long as I can remember. And I've always known what it contained. It has always been so.

I remember it being one of the precious treasures found in one of my mom's dresser drawers--the jewelry and scarf drawer. This treasure, along with a solid cedar jewelry box full of sparkly baubles priceless only to a child, fascinated me. I never got in trouble going into the drawer and poking about. I usually left things the way I found them once I was done. I loved the woody-musky aroma of cedar that permeated everything in the drawer--especially the soft chiffon scarves I would wrap around my head or neck or hold up to my nose to breathe the scent in deeply. Often, I would pick up the canister and lightly shake it to hear the faint rattle of the shells inside. Very rarely, I opened it to see them. I was mostly satisfied just knowing they were there.

I don't know where the shells came from. I don't know how old they are. I just know they've always been there.




Now the canister is mine. It sits on a shelf in my studio above my head as I type this. It is a silly treasure only precious and priceless to me.

I rarely open it. I sometimes shake it lightly to hear the shells inside. I'm satisfied knowing they are still there.

Yesterday, I opened them and gently let them spill out onto my worktable so I could photograph them. One fell on the floor, and I couldn't see it right away. I searched for it frantically as if a 2 karat diamond had fallen from my grasp. I found it camouflaged in the pattern of my area rug. Whew! I placed it with the others. I took the photographs and then carefully put them all back in and screwed the top on tight.

Now I can look at the shells any time I want by looking at the photograph. Or I can reach up and gently shake the canister on the shelf above me. Either way, I'll be content knowing they are there.



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2 comments:

Strawberry Lane said...

Wonderful glimpse into your sea shell canister. The photographs look as delicate as your memories. So beautiful.

Carolynn Anctil said...

Those are lovely and delicate and the canister is a complement. I can see why you would treasure them. They're precious, as are the memories that they evoke.

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