Collecting seashells & memories

By Brittany Gilbert

I’m not much of a collector. In fact, I’ve written articles about minimalism because I feel overwhelmed by clutter of any kind. However, in recent years I have discovered a new love for the beach and have started a collection of my own.

We had our first family beach vacation to Florida four years ago, and I fell madly in love with everything about it — the soft, white sand, the unpredictable waves, the beautiful, blue ocean that stretches as far as the eye can see. God meets with me each and every time I go and reminds me of his majesty, goodness, attention to detail, and his care for all of life.

Anniston Clark, Carolina Clark, Talia Lee and Everly Gilbert enjoy the surf and shells.

I knew people collected seashells, but it’s not anything that has ever been appealing to me. Seashell décor and the like still aren’t my cup of tea, however, there is something about shells that you collect yourself. Walking the beach and sifting through the sand for unique pieces gives me a joy that I didn’t expect. As I write this, I can feel the sand on my feet, the water washing over my legs and the salty wind blowing through my hair. I go between watching the waves and thoroughly examining the ocean floor and beach for shells. Broken shells are usually all over the place, therefore my kids know that for super common shells like scallops and clams, they must be complete and not broken. I’ll be honest that most of these shells get placed back on the sand because we’ve collected so many already.

This summer, thanks to my friend Anne, I learned that shells have names and are categorized from common to rare finds. We hit a gold mine at Navarre Beach, where I found the most unique and beautiful shells I’ve ever seen. I learned that sunrise is the best time to go hunting, and while I’m not a morning person, I was extra motivated to wake up and walk the beach. I’ll probably never remember all of the names, and that’s definitely not my focus, however it is so cool to know that they have names and classifications. It’s really neat to find a shell that isn’t common. It’s especially neat to find a shell that is rare and to know that because of how cool God is to share his creation with us, it is possible to find those really rare creations.

Probably the best part of my seashell hunts is sharing with my family. Walking the beach is never boring because you never know what you’ll come across. My kids love exploring, too. My 4-year-old daughter is probably my biggest partner when it comes to hunting. We have the best time, and it has really been a big part of strengthening our bond. I know we will have stories to tell for years to come and the amazing seashells as proof. So, I would say I’m a collector of seashells, but also of smiles, laughs, conversation, and quality time with my favorite people in the world.

Brittany Gilbert
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