Earlier this spring, I met a fellow mom who was born and raised in sunny California, and recently moved her family to our New York City suburb. Like most conversations go here in the Northeast, we discussed real estate, property taxes, and wait for it… weather.
In our defense, we couldn’t not talk about the temperature, the sunlight, the early budding happening alongside our feet; it was one of those first few days of April when you make every excuse to turn any experience into an al fresco one because it’s been six months since you’ve experienced anything like this and heck, maybe you never have. You can’t really remember. Your memory of warm, sunbathed days happens to be completely decimated by an endless loop of living in a closed-in, snow draped world of interiors like some mid-winter Edith Wharton novel gone terribly wrong. Because your version doesn’t include a hot toddy in the library at 4 PM but two under age four with a severe case of cabin-fever.
But back to the playground. Ms. California tells me that when she was living on the other coast, her husband with New York roots was known to generate minor domestic disturbances in the form of passive aggressive sighing on his recurring, excruciating discoveries that his family was wasting yet another perfectly-PERFECT, mid-70s, sunny day by curling up the couch to binge-watch the latest season of Paw Patrol.
“There’s always tomorrow to play outdoors,” Ms. California would say.
I’ve got to take sides with Mr. California on this one. Because here in the Hudson Valley, well, there’s never tomorrow. Instead it’s: seize the day. Carpe diem. Pack up the car and get to the beach. Now.
Which is pretty much how we’ve been approaching life since Memorial Day, drifting between Playland Beach in Rye and Robert Moses National Park, a gorgeous stretch of sand and surf in Queens. We’ve been busy collecting every sort of shell and conch-abode imaginable, amassing an enormous collection in preparation for one of our favorite DIY’s we love to do as a family: stringing together seashell necklaces, back at the house with sand in our toes.
The thing about our temperamental weather on the East Coast is this: there’s always tomorrow to stay indoors. The trick is to be sure that you don’t find yourself seashell-less when the summer rains and thunder-booms hit. So gather ye seashells while ye may. (And you may even have the good fortune of forgoing a Paw Patrol marathon, altogether, on the next stormy day.)
What you need:
- My Aunt Kelley uses a small drill; I look for natural holes when I’m collecting. It adds a bit of a game to the hunt, I think.
- Metallic acrylic paints
- Metallic crayons. I am really enjoying these, lately.
- Bendable wire. Any sort of string will do, but I prefer using this.
- Rainy day (optional, but only if you’re in California.).
What to do:
- Start with your least favorite shells and practice painting and coloring on their surface. Some of the porous kinds will soak up paint; others will repel color. Play around. I like to leave some of the natural shell exposed by only coloring part of it. Many shells are beautiful just as they are, without additional decoration.
- Repeat your favorite designs on the shells with holes. Let dry.
- Before stringing your necklace, check the length of your wire or string. I prefer to make necklaces that can be placed over the head easily without a fastener. Children find these easier to wear, too.
- Insert the bendable wire or necklace string and pull through the hole.
- Twist together or knot the ends to close the necklace
- I like to pop these in the mail to thank friends who have shared a day at the beach with us, or save them for end-of-year holiday presents to remind friends of our sunny days together.