Beachcombing: Instructions.

You have to go slowly. The familiar shapes of shells may be almost buried under pebbles or sand, so you have to see every shape and think of it as maybe part of a whole. If you go too quickly, you might miss a tiny periwinkle shell, or a perfect whelk shell tossed up by the tide.
Dig. Investigate. Turn it over and see. When you go slowly, you can see more.

You also have to be gentle. Mussel shells break easily, but nothing beats the blue pearl sheen when you hold a whole one up to the sunlight.

Be thorough. Comb back layers of pebbles. Look closely. Rocks that are beautiful when wet might look like nothing special when dry, but you have to be aware. That little grey lump may show you nothing, but if you saw it in the water, you’d see the delicate green tracery of minerals running through it, a river-map on a rock.

Trust your instinct. If you think there’s a hidden sunset in a dull smudge of oyster shell, touch your tongue to it. Taste the salt of the ocean, of tears, blood, the primordial soup, and look again at that piece of shell. You may be disappointed and you may be astonished at the wash of colour. But you won’t know unless you try.

And always look up to see the sea.

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