Since I moved to the central Alabama area seven years ago, I have learned at least one important thing about the people who live here. They go to the beach. They don’t just go to the beach, they know Gulf Shores and Orange Beach like the back of their hand. I never mentioned a trip to the beach without receiving recommendations for places to stay, to eat, and fun things to do.

If everyone in the area doesn’t own a beach condo, they have a relative or at least a friend who does. While this has so far failed to get me a free stay at the beach, I have received many good suggestions to enjoy my visits to the coast.

One trip a year is not enough for most Central Alabama residents. Two seems to be the minimum and why not? It is a short trip and the roads are good. Gasoline prices are; well, it’s a short trip. While you could spend a long weekend, most seem to spend at least a week sunbathing and walking the white sand beaches.

When you reach a certain age, and I am not going to suggest what that age might be, as it is different for everyone, the night and the most boisterous entertainment lose a certain charm. Drinking beer after midnight at Flora Bama has greater consequences and a much longer recovery time. So I stay with visiting museums, eating in different restaurants and walking on the beach. There is also shopping, which is entertainment for me and generally a drag for my husband. Some also spend a lot of time collecting seashells.

You see these people walking down the beach looking down at their feet and quickly understand that they are looking for a rare sand dollar or an equally sought after shell. You might be wondering why the fascination with seashells. They can certainly be beautiful, but what do you do with them once you get home?

After many years of collecting seashells along the beautiful beaches of the Gulf of Mexico from Sanibel to Orange Beach, what to do with the shells remained a question on my mind. Sure you can put some in a vase on the sand that didn’t get spilled on your car. Shells are not appreciated by family and friends as birthday gifts, especially after the first. You can display one or two on your buffet or on a side table, but that might leave enough shells to pave your driveway.

Why did you collect shells would be a reasonable question and the answer is equally simple: just for the love of seashells. Over the years I have learned to identify hundreds of seashells. But it just so happened that I had a virtual plethora of shells in my house.

Alabama residents, along with other visitors to the coast, often purchase a variety of items decorated with seashells. Many of them made in China. Why not bring something home from the coast? Why not make beautiful handmade shell items right here in central Alabama? And that’s what I do.

So folks, if you see me on the beach carrying a recyclable bag and looking at my feet, you will know that I am collecting seashells for future projects.

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