Documented Legacy

Pottery artwork: Designed by Alexandra Harcharek


Throughout my home are small trinket dishes filled with tiny seashells and stones, memories of past beach trips. I tend to bring one home every time. The opportunity to travel is a gift, even if the shore is only an hour’s drive away. The very sight of these shells takes me back to a moment in the sand. Their colors make me reflective of the magnificence of Mother Nature. These shells were once living organisms and, even after their first life is complete, they still exist with purpose.

When I look at my trinket dishes, I think of the memories.

  • The beach on eastern Long Island, New York where heart shaped rocks are found.
  • The colors of Cape Cod, Massachusetts
  • Beachside finds in Nags Head, North Carolina after a terrible storm.
  • Red rocks from a Utah bluff riverbed.
  • Hundreds of tiny shells collected with a small enough hole to string a necklace chain and wear through the winter.
  • Shell pieces softened over time by the lapping of waves along the New Jersey shore, their colors reaching out to me.
  • Seashell hunting with my mother and doing the same with my grandchildren, hunched over hand in hand.

Always, my memory goes back in time to my childhood when my family overpacked a station wagon and took a day trip to the beach twice a summer. We’d burp out of the car upon arrival.  Mom always planted the big blanket within inches of the life guard stand, just in case. I could see myself, bathing suit on and a sand pail in my hand, running toward the water’s edge. Seashell collecting began immediately and lasted for hours, until I wandered back to the blanket for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a cream soda. Unfortunately, I was one of those pain in the neck little sisters, who often wandered off for too many hours, causing a search and rescue mission to be launched. My poor older siblings got stuck walking miles on the beach looking for me. Oftentimes I remember wandering up to another family, pail in hand, and played with their children until I ate lunch with them, too. I was such a weird little girl, but the seashell memories are so pleasant. I loved the hunt.

The arrival at the water’s edge relaxes and inspires me every time. These tiny treasures are a point of reflection and reminiscence. They are the start and vivid details of many family stories.