Being surrounded by shells has been a comfort to me all my life. Growing up in Virginia Beach, my family would spend weekends at our local beaches and vacations to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Combing the beaches for shells, driftwood and beach bling became our entertainment and our source for our favorite souvenirs to bring home to my parents house…. and plain happiness.
I’m spending a few days with my mom who still lives in the same house I was raised in.. and where all of those beach treasure souvenirs are still throughout her home. I couldn’t remember exact beaches where we found most of the KNOBBED WHELKS and CHANNELED WHELKS so I asked her if she had any idea. She couldn’t remember either but she thought probably near Cape Hatteras. Then she told me she still has boxes of shells in her closet that she hasn’t looked at in years. Of course I had to get them out!
Sorting through these boxes, shells and findings has been so much fun to reminisce about all of our first times swimming, the games we played at the camp grounds, leaky tents and lots of treasure hunting.
Then I pulled out a little tiny bag filled with some sort of stones. “Hmmmm…. I think I remember digging for these pieces but I cant remember what they are”. My brother Doug took one look at the bag… “Fairy Stones”.
Oh yeah! Now I remember -we made several trips to hunt for these FAIRY STONES at Fairy Stone State Park in Virginia over 40 years ago (yes, I was just a baby- ha!). But what are they? Hmmm- nobody could remember so I Googled them. This is from Fairy Stone State Park… Fairy stones are minerals called staurolite which is a combination of silica, iron and aluminum. Staurolite crystallizes at 60 or 90 degree angles making the stone’s cross-like or “x” shape. They are only found in rocks once subjected to great heat and pressure formed long ago during the rise of the Appalachian Mountains. Pretty cool, huh?
Finding these stones (for the second time) made for more reminiscing of more family trips and funny stories. Having these experiences as a child is why I love shelling and treasure hunting as an adult, I’m sure of it. It brings back the sweetest of memories especially when I get to share them with my family.
Walking the beach in Virginia makes my heart pitter patter…
Lots of RAZOR CLAMS…
This is where I first learned about SKATE EGG CASES (MERMAID PURSES)…
Beachcombing as a little girl has shaped my life. It has drawn me close to the ocean throughout my years and as an adult I’m fortunate enough to be able to explore the ocean’s curiosities of that child inside. It’s the wonder of it all.
As usual I’ve learned something new from your post. Never heard of Fairy Stones! Here on Lake Michigan we have Indian Beads (crinoid fossils) or Petoskey stones. Nature is grand in its diversity. BTW I found my junonia this summer– nice 4 inch long specimen! And I found it on the shores of Lake Michigan– at an antique shop!
We can’t all comb tropical beaches!
Your post is beautiful, too! Michigan beaches sound like they are nature’s treasure chest like ours in florida.
I have several of those kinds of shells. If I go to an area know for a certain
kind of shell and can’t find it on the beach, I ain’t scared to buy it.
Wow! A four inch junonia! Either its a really huge ginormous one or another really rare volute that’s closely related to the junonia and is called the butler’s volute. You can tell the two apart by the amount that the whorls of the spire overhang and by the color of the finish (butler’s volute looks slightly chalky.) Congratshellations are due either way!!!!!
Thanks for the info, Lydia. Just got back from visiting my Dad– so I’ll have to take another look at my shell to see if it’s a junonia or a butler’s volute. Maybe I’ll post a pic on FB.
Oooo, you’ve got some beauts there, Pam!
Love this post! I too learned something new. Going through your moms shells reminded me of when my sister and I did the same thing. My mothers collection was from all over the world but mostly purchases from She Sells Sea Shells or the Shell Factory! Great memories.
As a kid, I would save my money and beg to stop at Sea Shell City when we went on vacation. None of my family understood my fascination with sea shells but they appreciated the clean restrooms– so I had to choose my treasure quickly before my Dad called us all back to the car. I was amazed when I visited Sanibel– imagine being able to find shells on a beach!
I love this post,Pam! I grew up in Hampton&our vacations as children&adults were always Outer Banks!! such treasured memories from OBX&Hatteras.Enjoy your visit with your Mom!Thanks for sharing this!!
I live in Va Beach…welcome back!! I love the Brim coffee can in the picture of your Mom’s treasures. “Fill it to the rim with Brim!”
We camped at Philpott Lake when our children were little, and collected Fairy Stones close by. Fun memories!
I have also been going though boxes of shells and rocks that I have collect in the past and have been amazed at some of the things I have collected. Funny thing is my one Grandson son loves collecting stones and of having some of my shells and so the tradition continues. Enjoy.
Welcome home! It’s always so funny to me when you are here! Hoping to do a shelling cruise with you in November :)
Will be down on the island in just 3 short days……I AM SO excited!!! See you Thursday, Pam.
Jan from KY
Those stones are so cool! Enjoy the time with your Mom…we can “weather” a few days without a Sanibel post if we try hard….you are so lucky to still have her to visit! Maybe this post will inspire me to go through my childhood boxes of shells in my basement!! We went to Nags Head for many years because we could have our Newfoundland dog with us on the beach all day!
As others have said you are Blessed to have your mother to spend these days with so Enjoy! My first time posting…loved your childhood treasures. I must say I was clearly partial to the shells. Recently moved here from Ohio and I believe shelling is definitely for me. Just getting started, looking forward to seeing you on a cruise, on Sanibel, or who knows where!
Such a cool post Pam…Love the Stones.
Love the fairy stones and your nice collection of shells. I have a couple of channeled whelks that our family found in Rhode Island when I was growing up. Have a nice visit. Pat
Coming down to Sanibel for a week then on to the outer banks. Can anyone tell me where a good shelling beach is on the outer banks? thanks
Making more memories Pam with you family! How awesome!!
Oh my gosh Pam, what a story. Two days ago I was going through my attic.. and found a box of shells that I had forgotten all about. Once my husband, son and I started to look through them all our memories came bact to the vacation we took 22 years ago at Hilton Head . Tyler, my son was 7 years old at the time and remembered so much of the trip once we started to talk about the vacation. What a great family trip but better yet what great family memories we shared the other day. Thanks for the post and enjoy your memories with your family.
I grew up in Virginia Beach also! I have never been able to get the sand out of my shoes. I have subscribed to your emails for a few years, but have never made it on one of the outings.
I have boxes and boxes of shells from everywhere. Maybe I can make a shelling cruise.
That was beautiful! Such beautiful memories :) love the fairy stones, have never seen anything like them!
my husband’s mother Doris loved to collect shells. They were snowbirds from New York and they would winter on the eastern coast of Florida. She would come home with all her treasures and I could not understand how much they meant to her until I came to Sanibel for the first time and started “shelling” about ten years ago. I now have her shell collections and they are in several beautiful glass containers displayed in my home. Just looking at them brings back such beautiful memories of my wonderful mother in law.
I loooove all of your stories! A joy to read them!
Fairy crosses! How cool! I have one pinned to an old denim jacket of mine with a whole lot of other treasures on it, including some shells of course! :) Pam, your posts are always fun!
We live in Va. Beach too– vacation often down on the Outer Banks of NC. Kind of the way it goes for most locals here!! Loved reading this post, seeing your pics. :)
I always enjoy learning something new when I read your posts and this is no exception. These stones are really cool. I will have to make a trip there someday, it sounds like a wonderful place. Thank you Pam. Enjoy the time with your Mother.
My girlfriend told me about this site while on a girlfriend day trip to Sanibel Island; http://www.graciouslygrey.com/sanibel-island-beach.
Thank you for being a force on the WWW to educate the masses about shelling. I am looking forward to learning about my shells.
I want to go to fairy stone state park!