100 Beaches in a Bowl

By Jay Kerner

Someday, in I hope the far distant future, somebody will throw out the glass bowl that currently sits on a shelf in our bathroom. While it means the world to me, both literally and figuratively, it will sadly be near worthless to anybody else after we’re gone. Though I won’t be surprised if they dump it and keep the bowl.

It’s filled with sand and seashells mostly, with a few tiny coral pieces mixed in, and a generous sprinkling of colorful sea glass. They’re the treasures of maybe a hundred perfect days with my family, on some beach or another.

No big Conchs or other store-bought souvenirs. Nothing too unique or special about anything much in the collection. But they were all picked by my babies. Plucked by their pudgy hands like jewels from the surf.

They were stashed by my children, in pockets and backpacks. Forgotten on returning until the next time a suitcase is needed. Then, pheeewee! Hmmm… I wonder about the impact of rotting sea life has on luggage sales?

But I digress.

The Queen has always heard the call of the sea, which is amazing as, by my own made-up reckoning, only about 2% of the world’s population lives farther away from it than we do.

Be that as it may, that’s always where she wanted to go for vacay. So we did.

We flew some. Did a couple of cruises.

But mostly, like Clark W. Griswold in the Family Truckster, it was me behind the wheel for our Vacation Getaways. And no matter the mini-van, station wagon or SUV, there was always sand and shells in the floormats when you got home. I’m sure the CSI guys could recreate the whole trip based on that and the beef jerky crumbs.

A lot of shells didn’t make it home in one piece. Who knows how long on the ocean floor, claimed as home sweet home for this arachnid or that mollusk? Only to be crushed in transit while wadded up in a dirty sock.

We started saving the survivors in a smaller bowl decades ago now, then upsized when we had to. Been in this bowl several years now. I think it’s the third one.

We’re not adding as much anymore. It’s not that we’re not going. We probably hit more beach days now than ever. We just don’t pick them like we used to.

The kids aren’t with us like they always were. Sometimes, but sometimes with their own kids. Like we were. Their finds go to their own bowls.

But we’ll still grab one here and there. We’re just pickier pickers.
Plus, our bender over-ers don’t bend over like they used to.

But I smile every time I see the bowl. Every little shell, every scrap of driftwood, every shard of Coke bottle worn smooth by waves and sand, reminds me of golden days on distant shores. With my girls. In our warm, happy place.

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