My summer was filled with momentous events – a trip to Russia, a keynote speech at the Well Spouse Association in Las Vegas and a visit to Seattle where my book was a finalist for the Nancy Pearl Book Award for Best Memoir. But one of my favorite activities was (and still is) walking at the beach at low tide from Ocean Park to the Venice Pier or from the north jetty up to the Venice Pier.
I followed the daily tide tables to make sure I hit the tides at the right time. There were mornings when the ocean was glassy and smooth, like a placid lake. The waves came in as ripples instead of crashing on the shore and there was solitude on the sparsely populated beach. Other times, at mid-day or early afternoon, the beach was filled with surf camps, kids frolicking in the waves and tourists wading ankle deep near the shore.
At low tide, rocks and shells are exposed and I got a thrill each time I saw an intact sand dollar. I couldn’t resist picking up them up even though I have a box of sand dollars stored in my garage and have more than I even know what to do with. One day, I gave a handful of them to an eight-year-old boy who had never seen sand dollars before and was elated at the treasure.
But most days, I brought them home, small ones about the size of a dime and larger ones that fit in the palm of my hand. I learned to hold them gently as I walked as just the motion of them brushing against each other in my pocket made them crumble into dust. I can’t explain my fascination with sand dollars or why I find them so alluring. Maybe because they are so much like the fragility of life – they can survive the crash and tumble of waves yet they break at the slightest touch.