For vacation that year, it was the first time my famiIy – sisters, spouses, children, father – visited Cape Cod. Traveling from California, New York City and New England, we all gathered together in a rented condo on the shore of Hyannis Port. There we swam, sunned ourselves, enjoyed long leisurely meals and lounged on the deck to read, sip drinks and watch the sailboats coming in and out of the harbor. We drove to Provincetown and sailed to Nantucket. And at all hours we waded along the sparkling shoreline, scooping up shells washed in with the tides. We each had our separate collection and packed them into our luggage when we left.

Back in New York, I rinsed all the sand off and looked around the apartment for a container to hold them. Nothing seemed right. I wanted to be able to see as many shells as possible. I also didn’t want them to get all dusty. I wanted them as pristine as when I first saw them.

To the rescue! Again! My favorite dollar store. The squat shape was perfect, the glass nice and thick and the lid would keep dust and soot away… would seal in our week together… And all these years later, it has.

I’ve lost track of how many years my shell collection has been sitting on top of a cabinet in my kitchen, keeping me company while I cook (or, more accurately, slap meals together). But I haven’t forgotten a moment of that family vacation when we were all young and super healthy and spent a week together walking along the Cape Cod shore, breathing in that clean Atlantic air and gathering shells that would later become a remembrance of that special time…

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