Broken Shells Calling

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(Friday evening in Furadouro)

I mentioned yesterday that I loved the town of Furadouro and one of the reasons was the beach. Not the sand but the shells. Not the perfectly pretty and complete shells. The broken ones. I had started noticing broken shells on the beach at Vila Chã, I thought they were interesting but not as interesting as the terracotta coloured stones. Then at Lavos Praia there were no terracotta stones but loads and loads of little broken shells.

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(A mix of broken shells and pebbles)

They weren’t everywhere, they seemed to be washed up in a line parallel to the tide line… a broken shell line, but there were so many I couldn’t but notice them. I started picking them up and once I started it was hard to stop, it was like they were calling me. Why would they be calling me?

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(Some of the bigger shells I saved!)

The ones in Furadouro were bigger, the chipping away had only begun, but in time (unless I saved them?) they would be tiny little broken bits. I wonder if shells start off perfectly pretty and complete somewhere up north and they get little pieces chipped off as they travel south, until they are so small they look like sand. I saved a bag full from Furadouro. I think I know why they were calling me…

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(and more…)

When I picked up the first broken shell I was surprised it was so smooth at the broken edge. It was like it had been sanded with sandpaper. Of course it had been sanded with the original sandpaper… sand. That’s why I kept picking them up. They were lovely to hold and to run my finger along the smooth edge. And they reminded me of buttons. I love buttons. But it wasn’t just their button-like feel, I also recognised a human-like feel.

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We start off perfectly pretty and complete and then bits get chipped off and we’re broken. We feel broken. We chip off others. We break others. Everyone we know is broken in some way. But these shells were asking me… Can’t you see how different we are? How very interesting we are? How we are so, so beautiful in our brokenness? I’m bringing a bag of broken beautiful shells home, please let me know if you’d like one to remind you that you are beautiful.

Step 12. Believe it, you are so, so beautiful, Mairead.

When the Rains Came Back…

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(A kite surfer on his way home on Saturday evening. By the way that red sky at night didn’t bring a shepherd’s delight…)

It’s been raining continuously here since early Sunday morning and the two of us are getting plenty of practice at being together in a confined space… We’ve had rain before on this trip but we knew we could move along if it persisted and although sometimes we waited a couple of days to be sure it was persisting we knew we could get away from it if we really wanted to. We can’t get away anymore. The forecast is rain for the next two days, then on the third day we will be going home.

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(Could be a sea urchin?)

We’ve had rain before at home too, but sitting here, I can’t remember what I did on a rainy Sunday… What did I do? Probably watched television. We don’t have a television. We do have internet and we could watch YouTube videos, but it’s very slow. Fortunately, I brought a crate-full of crafty things so I have plenty to do. I spent most of yesterday doodling.

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(Can you see his eyes?)

It’s not cold but when we go visiting the photogenic toilets (thank you Thierry for the translation: Vos chiotes sont tres photogeniques!) we get a little damp and then it’s lovely to turn on the heating! Yes we have heating! The gas that powers the hob, the oven and the fridge also blows warm air through our little home when necessary. Because it’s a small space it doesn’t take much to heat it, in fact when Denis cooks the dinner (yes, he’s still cooking) it’s also toasty in here.

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(Lots of shells on the beach plus a little bit of seaweed)

Anyway, the rain stopped at about midday and I rambled out to the beach to take some more pictures… but the smell. As I may have said before I grew up in Cashel, Co. Tipperary. One of county Tipperary’s claims to fame is that it’s Ireland’s largest inland county. Which is a great honour… but it means that there’s no sea. As a child a trip to the seaside involved days of travelling. Well, it seemed like days… but it was probably only a couple of hours. About a mile away from our destination, my Dad driving, my Mam in the front, my brother and me in the back (our sister not yet born) the windows were rolled down and we caught our first smell of… seaweed. Even today the smell of seaweed makes me happy! Ah seaweed.

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(Look! Not a butterfly but a mussel pretending to be a butterfly. Saw this and thought of you, Cathy!)

I read somewhere that we are wired for pleasure, simple pleasure. Pleasure receptors are located very close to where we receive information from our senses. From the smells or tastes or touch or sights or sounds around us we have the ability to derive pleasure. From the dictionery pleasure is a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment. How incredibly simple and free and even freeing.

Don’t wait, be happy now, Mairead.