Maybe twice each week my rides take me south along the shoreline. It’s an area that’s flatter and more open. Where I can stay seated longer. There are fewer trees and wider skies. So much of cycling is about tan lines. Mine is.
For the last few years I’ve been collecting seashells. To the point of obsession. It must go back to my childhood when I summered in Belmar. These rides allow me a chance to grab some. The Long Island Sound isn’t the Atlantic.
The shells are different here. But like anything that nature serves, one can’t rate them. The shapes and textures are what they are. Colors too. Each time I’m on the shoreline I fill one of my three back pockets until it bulges.
It’s a bit funny. There are beaches that dot the area for many miles, but only two I hit when I want to add to my collection. Odd, but they both share the same name, Private Beach. It sounds like an oxymoron. A coincidence?
At Private Beach (either of them, both of them) I have a routine. I drop the bicycle in the sand, walk around for 10 minutes, and look for cool shells. Some see me coming and say, “Take me.” Others I notice, then kneel, and pick up.
Part of the ritual is this. Before I leave I find a spot in the sand and, with my finger, write my mom’s name. Then next to it I draw a heart. Then I press my right hand in and make an imprint. And I place the most lovely shell next to this.
When I’m done, I stand up, look at the sand, and say, “I love you Bobbe.” There’s never anyone around when I’m at Private Beach. These moments give me a timeout from life to remember who gave me mine. Then I leave.
All This By Hand