Saturday, January 17, 2009

my real home


My true 'home' is by the sea. I had a long think about this the other day - it's not next to the sea (even though I love coastal walks), and it's not in the sea (although I love diving), and not on the sea (at best I am a fair weather sailor). Nope, none of these. Where I truly feel at home is the seashore, strolling on long stretch of beach, preferably deserted. I could be rock pooling or beachcombing or photographing the patterns that sand makes. I put my love of the seashore down to my father and the holidays we spent by the sea with a trusty Collins Guide to the Seashore. My Dad was never much for enjoying the sea, in fact I only saw him in the water once in my life. I now wonder why we had beach holidays when he seemed to really dislike the water. But we would spend hours pacing beaches picking up and identifying shells, or clambering over rocks and then rock pooling for shrimps.


Somewhere in my Mum's attic are some of the reminders of these holidays. I delved into this treasure trove of goodies a while back and found something that instantly brought a flood of memories back - a couple of British cowrie shells. These tiny ridged pink shells symbolise my childhood, well at least a part of it - the happy times on Cornish beaches. I don't think we found them anywhere else - or if we did I only associate them with Cornwall. In Asia they are far grander and have the most incredible markings, colouration and shiny texture. I've seen them many times now underwater with their mantle covering the shell and seen them feeding, and seen them washed up empty on beaches, scratched by coral and sand. But I don't think any other cowrie, or shell for that matter, will have so much resonance for me as the humble British cowrie.


Much of my past is stored in a couple of attics in Europe, there's a lot of 'stuff' up there too but to me that doesn't count. The things that really matter to me are old letters and cards, photos and little mementoes of happy times. Sometimes I long for them as I long for that deserted beach - but not in a nostalgic way, yearning for the past kind of way. Just as a way of putting some of the pieces of the puzzle back together - what makes me today, where my passions have come from...

2 comments:

Ginaagain said...

I feel this way about the sea also. We live within a few miles of the shore and, although I don't go often, it feels right to me knowing that it's only a few minutes away. I have lived far inland at times and I had moments of actual grief that I couldn't get to the ocean.

It's lovely that you know that your important stuff is safely tucked away in attics for you.

stargazer said...

Agree with what you say...I know wherever I move next it;ll have to be close to the sea. I don't feel particularly connected to the sea here for various reasons - but love the fact that we live so near to wonderful coastlines....