seems that over the course of the summer and fall, two groups of people
have formed: A group that is justifiably tired of hearing about Shelly
Island, and a group that just won’t shut up about it.
As this article will clearly demonstrate, I am in the second group.
I adore that sandbar.
I adore that it changes on a daily basis. I adore
that every time I go out there, I can rationalize eating pizza and
cheesecake when I get home because I technically exercised. And I adore
that I can go there under the guise of “work research,” and then spend
hours gobbling up seashells like Pac Man on a sugar high.
But, as I have discovered over the past few
weeks, not everybody shares my obsession and / or wants to talk about
Shelly Island all the time.
My poor, long-suffering husband is a prime example.
At this point, he has mastered the art of smiling
and nodding as I passionately go on and on about the difference between
conchs and whelks, or how I saw an actual octopus on my last visit. (I
totally did! It was amazing! And I can tell a 15-minute story about the
My better half has also somehow been able to cope
with the fact that almost all of our home’s décor is now made entirely
out of seashells, and there is sand on pretty much every interior
surface – including and especially our bed and couch.
So as a favor to my endlessly patient husband -
and to all the other spouses, friends, and colleagues out there who are
sick to death of hearing about seashells - I’m going to share what I’ve
learned about shutting the heck up about Shelly Island.
Now don’t feel bad if you can’t follow any of
these guidelines. I’m mainly writing this as an attempt to show my
husband and loved ones that at least I tried to shut up about Shelly
Island, and by reading this, you’re demonstrating that you’re giving it
your best shot too.
So here goes nothing:
If We Keep Talking, They Will Come
There’s a part of me that is thrilled that so
many people share my love and fascination of amazing shelling. I had no
idea that I wasn’t the only person by far with a full-fledged
beachcombing obsession, and there’s a sense of comradery among us
“can’t shut up” people who are excited about every trip.
But then there’s another, more genuine part of me
that wants everyone to go away because every single shell on that
sandbar is MINE.
And this part of me recognizes that if I keep
talking about how awesome Shelly Island is, more and more people will
head out there to see if I’m right.
So let’s all agree to change the conversation, just to reduce the competition.
I’ll start by stating, right now and in print, the following:
Shelly Island is
awful. Everything that we have ever posted on Island Free Press that
remotely suggested that Shelly Island is great was 100% Fake News.
There aren’t any
shells there, ever. Also, there have been multiple shark, sting ray,
and alligator attacks since it has formed. We didn’t publish anything
about those hundreds of attacks because we are lazy, but I assure you,
Don’t go. Move along. There’s nothing to see here, folks.
Apparently sandbars change. A lot.
You know how someone will smell something weird –
like an old sock or a mystery container in the refrigerator – and say
“Wow, this smells awful!” and then you suddenly have to smell it too?
That’s pretty much how I felt at the beginning of
the summer when everyone was saying NOT to swim to Shelly Island.
Suddenly, I really, really wanted to swim there.
And I did, and survived both the potential
sharks, and the current. (I even bought a Shelly Island T-Shirt to
commemorate this fact.)
But then Shelly Island changed, and you could
walk there, and suddenly I had a whole new thing to talk about. Which I
did, ad nauseum.
Then we had a month full of storms, and Shelly
Island changed again, disappearing and reappearing with every tide. It
was remarkable, and once again, I shared in-depth details about the
island’s new landscape with anyone who had ears.
Then starting a few weeks ago, the island
connected during low tide, and vehicles who had been itching to drive
on the sucker all summer long were finally able to cruise along the new
sandbar. (I admit, I was ready to angrily glare at any ORV that crushed
shells on their way out, but that rarely happened.)
So in the course of two seasons, we went from a
sandbar that you had to use a boat, floatation device, or liquid
courage to reach, to a skinny peninsula beach that you could drive on.
And man, did I talk about every change along the
way. But in my defense, it was like discovering a new beach with every
visit, as no two trips were ever exactly the same.
However, as numerous people explained to me over
the course of a few months - including at least two marine geologists -
“It’s a sandbar. And sandbars change a lot.” (In case you couldn’t
tell, the marine geologists had to dumb down their explanations on my
behalf quite a bit.)
In a sense, it’s a lot like my home during
hurricane season or a winter full of nor’easters: Sometimes, my yard is
a lake. Sometimes, my yard is a river. And sometimes, (and not as often
as I’d like, I might add), my yard is just a plain old yard that is in
desperate need of mowing.
So the regular landscape adjustments of Shelly
Island aren’t that unusual, and perhaps shouldn’t be discussed in-depth
with every change.
Not that this fact will stop me from dissecting every shoreline shift. Which brings us to…
If you absolutely do have to talk, there are people who will gladly listen
My husband is not my target audience when it comes to discussing seashells.
Especially if it’s a Saturday or Sunday in fall, and football is on.
But that audience most certainly exists, and you
can usually find these folks on Shelly Island in a concentrated and
One of the things I love most about going to that
beach is that you don’t greet other people with a “Hello” or a “Lovely
day.” Instead, the standard greeting is “HEY! You find anything good??”
And then you get to swap tips, and stories, and
information, and the other person doesn’t mind that you never look
directly at them, because you’re far too busy looking down and scouring
I’ve met a lot of wonderful people on that
sandbar over the summer and fall, even if I never saw their faces and
couldn’t tell you what they looked like.
And as competitive as us beachcombers are - (at
least I assume we’re all obsessed and crazy like yours truly?) - we
certainly appreciate other folks who are as nutty as we are.
So if you absolutely have to talk about the
Shelly Island sandbar, go straight to the source. Like a group of beer
lovers hanging out at a bar, your shelling addiction won’t seem as odd
if you’re among folks who think like you do.
Just never forget, as I stated before, that I have already laid claim to every single shell out there.
Especially the whelks. And maybe the octopus too.