How was your Memorial Day weekend?  I am so grateful to have had such a RELAXING weekend at my parents’ place on the Chesapeake Bay…  We go there every chance we get, and long weekends are especially nice.  Husband slept for 12 hours each of the first two nights (he seriously needed it) and I got some good sleep in myself.

Saturday was CHILL.  All we did was lounge, read books and magazines (me, my perpetual stack of decorating magazines, Husband the Atlantic or the Economist) on the porch and dock, and eat too much.  It’s pretty easy to relax when this is the view from the rocking chair:

sittin' by the dock of the bay...watchin' the time roll away...

sittin' by the dock of the bay...watchin' the tide roll away...

Sunday we crewed for my dad as he sailed his boat back to the house after a long-distance race the day before – I think we were on the sailboat for something like 8 hours.  Let’s be honest, I love me some sailing, but I read the whole time and didn’t help much!  Monday we were up early, and I did an 18-mile bike ride with my dad before packing up to leave…then braved traffic on I-95 (one word: gross).  All in all, it was a weekend the doctor ordered.

On Saturday between reading on the porch and reading on the dock, I did one of my more favorite things down there: hunt for shells.  My parents’ place is technically on a river that feeds into the Chesapeake (and not actually ON the Chesapeake), and there are TONS of ancient shells covering the beach area.  Most people wouldn’t put “shells” and “river” in the same sentence, but apparently the whole area used to be covered in ocean, so there’s lots of really old sea life to be found!

those are SHELLS, people!

those are all SHELLS, people!

One of the cliffs to the side of the property is slowly eroding…a bummer since the owners of the cliff will eventually “roll the bank” – meaning it will be gently sloped from 30-40 back from the water’s edge and wrapped in rip-rap (rock) to prevent further erosion, as will the profusion of new shells on the bech.  The good part about the cliff eroding is that new (to us) shells are constantly being unearthed from the base of the cliff.

shells seeing the light of day for the first time in about a million years

shells seeing the light of day for the first time in about a million (or five) years

Back in college, my geologist friend (or rock nerd, right Matt?) informed me that the shell most commonly seen on the beach area here is called the Chesapecten Jeffersonius, Virginia’s state fossil and named after the Chesapeake Bay and Thomas Jefferson.  Supposedly it’s like 4-5 million years old.  Hoo-wee!

there's the TJ shell

there's the TJ shell

TJ's close-up

TJ's close-up

In addition to the TJ shells (which we find in all sizes – from a big grapefruit to a thumbnail), we find hunks of coral, clam shells (including those funny tube clams that look like cigarettes), oyster shells, and the occasional sea sponge.

sponges and mini TJ shells

sponge and mini TJ shells

all sorts of shell finds

all sorts of shell finds

We find so many of the TJ shells that my parents give every house guest one at the end of their stay to remind them of their relaxing time at the bay.  I still think it’s crazy that I find more shells here than I do on real beaches at Virginia Beach…!

I have a fun project in mind that I’ll hopefully have time to work on this summer using some of my latest shell finds, and which I will of course share whenever it’s done!