When I was a child, I loved collecting seashells along the New Jersey coast. I’d walk the beach, small bucket in hand, and find tiny rainbow coloured clam shells, the occasional little conch, scallop and mussel shells. There was also a round snail-like shell whose name I forget. I had a book, written in 1955, that I’ve kept to this day. I read it many times, pouring over the line drawings and photos.
This love of shells has remained with me throughout my life. They’ve travelled with me to the various apartments I’ve lived in. The majority of shells and bits of coral in the glass jar in this post are ones I found on beaches in the Caribbean during the 1970s and early ’80s when I used to visit relatives there. There’s also the odd shell from other wanderings plus 4 or 5 interspersed that I bought in the ’70s while travelling in Florida.
Our first attempt to go on the boat tour of the freshwater fiord in Gros Morne did not go as scheduled because of torrents of rain and lightning. However, once the weather cleared, we went on a hike on the Coastal Trail near Green Point, south of the fiord. This cobbled beach trail is flat and runs right along the coast off the Gulf of St. Lawrence. We saw marshy ponds and passed tuckamore forests. Tuckamore is the Newfoundland word for stunted spruce and balsam fir trees that grow by the coast and in mountainous areas.
We did not take the full 6 km return hike, because we could see more thunderstorms brewing in the distance and travelling toward us. Since we were on totally open ground, we felt it was safest to turn around. We were among several other hikers, all of us doing the return hike in record time. This trail has stayed with me for its haunting atmosphere. I found it of great beauty.