Monday, May 14, 2018

Sea Shell Millionaire

It is perhaps a more fortunate destiny to have a taste for collecting shells than to be born a millionaire. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Say you're laying in bed at night and hear the distinctive sound of seashells hitting together just outside your bedroom.

It's not entirely unlikely, even in an urban jungle like Jackson Ward, because on my March foray to Cape May, Mac and I had scoured the Wildwood beach, with me scoring 17 sand-crusted conch shells which I loaded into a couple of found bags and toted home like a true tourist.

Since returning from Wildwood two months ago, the bags o' shells have been sitting on my balcony awaiting their fate. When I did my big Spring cleaning of the balcony last week, I'd moved the bags off the balcony and on to the first floor roof adjacent to the balcony to get them out of the way.

Of course, then I'd promptly forgotten about them, at least until Sunday night around midnight when I'd been awakened by the sound of shells banging against one another.

It certainly wasn't enough to get me out of bed to investigate, but I did glance out the bedroom window (which overlooks the balcony), only to see nothing unusual. One could say that darkness and uncorrected vision didn't make it any easier. If there was a roof prowler or seashell thief out there, they were tucked out of sight, and since I take getting my 9 hours of sleep pretty seriously, I gave up caring.

Imagine my surprise then when I went out on the balcony this morning and spotted the bags of shells ripped open with seashells scattered around the roof. Climbing over the railing to retrieve them - my first time walking on that roof since I moved in 9 years ago - I couldn't help but wondering who could have possibly taken most of the shells out of the bag.

A cat? My neighbor? A wild critter? That last one isn't quite as unlikely as it seems since I once woke up to find that some animal had climbed onto my balcony and removed cans from the recycler, presumably to lick, and left them sitting on the balcony floor. My neighbor's bathroom window faces over that same little roof and I noticed the window screen was sitting on the roof instead of being mounted in the window, so was he (or his goofy girlfriend) a suspect, too?

Beats me.

I finally knocked the New Jersey sand out of the shells and lined them up along one side of the balcony, sort of a repeating motif of long-gone animal homes, all fully intact and most still displaying their opalescent salmon-colored interiors. Souvenirs of a post-Nor'easter beach vacation that required gloves, hats and long pants but delivered long, windy walks, gingerbread architecture and tasty local oysters.

All I can say is, if I go out there in the morning and the shells are rearranged, I should probably have some serious concerns. But if something happens worth investigating during the next 9 hours, I make no guarantees.

Let us not forget what that wise sage Betty White once told us: "Get at least 8 hours of beauty sleep. Nine if you're ugly.

I don't want to brag, but last night I got eleven. Sleep before seashells because a woman's got to have her priorities straight.

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