By Louise R. Shaw
Clipper Staff Writer
Because my friend likes collecting shells and I like taking pictures of lighthouses, we agreed it would be fun to take a trip together, since shells and lighthouses are often in close proximity.
It was one of those things that always sounds good in conversation, but that you never quite get around to actually doing.
Except that we did.
I planned the route, we both made arrangements for our families to be taken care of in our absence and we headed north from our homes in Portland to Seattle’s Puget Sound.
At the beginning of our little escape, she told me she’d always hoped to find one particular shell that had eluded her in the past.
While she had dozens of sand dollars from the Oregon Coast, and a variety of other favorites from other spots she’d visited, she had always hoped to find this one particular one, but had never succeeded.
We drove north through Seattle to Mukilteo, across to Whidbey Island by ferry, then across via another ferry to the Olympic Peninsula, stopping at beaches and lighthouses along the way. I took pictures; she found shells.
At one unmarked stop, a place she had suggested on impulse that we pull over, we hit the jackpot.
We had stumbled upon a beach where the shells were so deep you had to walk on them instead of on sand to get anywhere. Though lots were clam shells, there were many others in between.
This was it, we thought, this is where that missing shell can be found, and we searched and collected and dug and searched some more.
Maybe over there. No. Maybe this spot again. Nothing.
So we resumed our travels. Kind of disappointed. Kind of really disappointed. Because we both didn’t really think we’d “stumbled” on to that beach. There were too many beaches around. Everywhere.
And though we have different faiths, we are both deeply religious, and we both believe that coincidence goes only so far, that sometimes you can be led to places and situations.
It was weeks later that I got a call from my friend.
She had been talking to someone knowledgeable about the elusive shell, and he told her the shell she sought wasn’t found as most are. It is inside another shell and you need to open one to find the other.
She returned to her collection from that day, and among the shells she had collected on that beach, she found the shell he’d spoken of and inside it, the shell she had long sought.
We hadn’t failed in the hunt.We just didn’t know we’d succeeded.
She had to look deeper inside to find what she‘d been looking for.
She’d had it all along.