Pocketable Treasures

July 7, 2012

“I fetched my sea-born treasures home.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson, from “Each and All”

Sun-bleached sea urchin shells

“Many of us beach-comb.  I think in a pretty mindless way, hoping that when we later look at our gatherings, we’ll feel the charge of the beautiful, happened-upon, pocketable things . . .”
— W. S. Di Piero, from “Saints”

Since I began painting flowers, leaves, seeds, and other natural things, I’m constantly carrying home “found” treasures.  They often become models for my watercolor sketches.  Something ineffable has drawn my eye and hand to these little gifts of nature, and I find that taking the time to sketch or paint them deepens my appreciation for them.  But interestingly, once they’ve been captured on paper, I seldom feel the need to keep them in my possession.

Di Piero is aware of the “charge” of the beautiful in shells and other found objects.  But Emerson warns that the “gay enchantment” often dies once the object is removed from its natural setting, pocketed, and taken home.  He repines that his sea-born treasures have “left their beauty on the shore.”

I found my sea urchin shells on a beach in Hawaii almost 30 years ago.  I’ve kept them in a small glass jar and still treasure them.  Seeing them brings back memories of my first trip to Hawaii and the secluded beach where I beach-combed for shells.  So in some respect, these pocketable treasures have kept their charge over the years.

One cannot always hold on to beauty.  But sometime we can come pretty close.

My collection of sea urchin shells

Sea urchin shell

I keep my Hawaiian shells in two small glass jars. I embroidered the little shells on the jar covers.

Ink sketch of sea urchin shells

10 Responses to “Pocketable Treasures”


  1. you’re not inclined to show us the embroidered shells?


  2. Rosemary, I have loved following your blog. Thank you! Could you tell me what camera you use? Fabulous photography. Thanks, Joan Elisabeth

    • Rosemary Says:

      My camera is a Canon Rebel xTi, and I most often use it with a zoom lens EF 70 – 300mm. Hope this info helps!

  3. Chris Says:

    That is so sweet that you embroidered those little shells to go on the caps of your shell jars!! Yes, we’d like a closer look!! I, like you, love to beach comb and have many treasures from the sea, although now they are telling us not to take shells from beaches, especially in Hawaii. It is said to bring bad luck as well as taking nutrients from the sea. 😦
    They are very hard to resist though!!
    Love your sea urchin photographs!!

    • Rosemary Says:

      Yes, provided you give the link to my site in your post. Thanks for asking!

      • alainaflute Says:

        Thanks! Reblogging through WordPress will automatically direct people to your site to read the complete article. 😀 We reblogged last Wednesday (July 25), if you would like to take a peek.
        You have a lovely blog! 🙂


  4. […] ocean beaches are full of “sea-born treasures.”  I have written before about the irresistible appeal of beach combing, filling my pockets with nature’s charms.  This trip was no […]


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