Since moving to central Alabama 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 have never mentioned a trip to the beach without receiving recommendations for places to stay, eat and fun things to do.

If everyone in the area doesn’t have a beach condo, have a relative or at least a friend who does. While this has so far failed to get me a free stay on the beach, I have received many great suggestions for enjoying 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. Gas prices are; Well, it’s a short trip. While you could make a long weekend out of it, most seem to spend at least a week soaking up the sun and walking the white-sand beaches.

When you get to a certain age, and I won’t suggest what that age might be as it’s different for everyone, the night and the more boisterous entertainment lose a certain charm. Drinking beer after midnight in Flora Bama has bigger consequences and a much longer recovery time. So I stick with visiting museums, eating in different restaurants and walking on the beach. There is also shopping, which is an entertainment for me and generally a drag for my husband. Some also spend a lot of time collecting seashells.

You see these people walking on the beach looking down at their feet and you quickly understand that they are looking for a rare sand dollar or some equally sought after shell. You may be wondering why the fascination with seashells. They can certainly be beautiful, but what do you do with them once you return 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 was still a question on my mind. Sure you can put some in a vase on top of the sand that didn’t spill on your car. Family and friends don’t appreciate shells as a birthday present, especially after the first. You can display one or two on your buffet or side table, but that could leave enough shells to pave your driveway.

Why did you collect shells? It 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 so happened that I had a virtual plethora of shells in my house.

Alabamans, 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 from the coast home? 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’ll know I’m collecting shells for future projects.

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