When I first began beach rambling at Potato Point fifteen years ago, I collected shells. I picked up only perfect specimens and even so my collection grew until it filled the bathroom windowsill and outside window ledges. My shells leaked sand, and protected the timber they covered from dust. At first I remembered the provenance of each: the exact spot, the emotion of the day, the particular sensuality of sun and salt air and watery horizon. Now the collection has been drained of all association, and I only notice it when the imminence of visitors drives me to dusting. My current shell collection is more manageable. I house it first on my camera, then my iPad and finally my blog. All the space it takes is megabytes.
Collecting offers me exercise, almost replacing my increasingly desultory routines from Warsaw physiotherapy. I squat on the beach, pretty sure that the sea will send a wave to cover the shell under my camera's particular scrutiny. I hold myself steady to photograph, and ready to leap out of the way before my precious lens takes a soaking. When I return home, I peruse my collection on screen, crop, and eradicate the less than perfect shots. At the moment, I'm happy with aesthetics, but I suspect I'll eventually want to begin the torturous naming ceremonies, struggling with taxonomies and less than explicit photos and excruciating, memory-taxing terminology.
But for now, I'm satisfied with beauty.