• The biggest stash of shells was distributed around Corey Beach, a popular hangout for families. Photo by Pat Foster-Turley/News-Leader

Hiding Amelia Island’s shells on Long Island

Every summer, Bucko and I travel to Blue Point, Long Island, to visit his family, and every year I write a column about it. After 14 or so columns about the same place, how do I write another? Well, this year it was easy. I hid shells.

A few weeks ago I wrote about Amelia Shells, the group of people and Facebook group (check it out) that promotes the idea of painting seashells, attaching a sticker with info, and hiding them all around for others to find and, hopefully, to report on. I painted a bunch of shells myself and decided to take these to Long Island to hide them there.

What fun! The lens of shell-hiding places gave me a whole new way to view the town of Blue Point. I wanted to find places that kids frequent, figuring that is the best target audience for these “finds.” I’m not a kid-person, so this perspective on Long Island was a new one for me.

I set off on my first morning with a walk around the area and a pocket full of painted shells. My first stop was the nearby natural area park, a place with jogging trails, children’s interpretive graphics, and loads of wildflowers and butterflies. I scattered a few shells on a bench. Then I found a great bronze turtle statue and left a shell there too, fittingly, one that had a turtle charm glued to it. A bit further along, I came to “Hildrith’s Pond,” a place that Bucko used to haunt as a kid, catching turtles and frogs and glass eels. These days the pond is a favorite place for people to bring their kids to feed the swans and geese. I put a shell on a railing there, another decorated with a turtle in honor of Bucko’s past.

The next morning I set off on a longer walk, down to the Great South Bay. At the fishing pier at the end of the street I found a young girl fishing with her family. I hid a decorated shell nearby where she will find it (and winked at her parents, who saw me, and smiled back in return.)

A bit further along, I left one on a railing overlooking the bay and the quaint houses located there, another scenic vista.

I followed the shoreline of the bay, past houses big and small, past well-landscaped yards full of flowers, and over a bridge across a small slough, which provided me a view of a few small commercial boats that fish for clams and whelks from the bay. The railing there was perfect, I thought, and I honored it with another shell.

I walked past the local summer clam and burger stand, Flo’s, but it was too early for customers, so I continued on to the town beach, Corey Beach.  From a vantage point beyond the beach, I watched boats come and go into the marina and looked at the children playing in the sand. Perfect.

My final handful of shells was weighing heavily in my pocket and this was just the place to unload them. I tried not to look too suspicious as I wandered through the kid’s area of swings, a pirate ship, rocking horses and slides, leaving a scattering of brightly painted shells in my wake. A few families were already encamped, enjoying one of the last days before school started.

This beach is only open for residents of Blue Point, and no one else can even park in the area. This area of Long Island is crowded with visitors, and without such protection, locals would never be able to get in the water. I couldn’t help thinking about the crowds at our own beaches in Fernandina, and wondered how the same situation might be resolved someday down the road.

It will be fun if someone in Long Island finds a shell or two and bothers to add it to Amelia Shells, the Facebook group site. But even if that doesn’t happen, just hiding the shells and imagining who will find them was good enough for me. This little adventure – seeking out the best hiding spots – gave me a new appreciation of the beauty and peace of Blue Point, Long Island.

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