A Would-Be Beachcomber’s Thoughts on Friendship


If I had my druthers, I would become a certified beachcomber. Beachcombing is a noble occupation which offers fresh air, time for contemplation, and a robust appreciation for what is important in life. It’s no wonder, then, that on my beach-walk this morning I have begun to think of shells, stones and friendship.

Perhaps (so goes my thought) my friends could be represented by unusual or beautiful or unique findings along the ocean’s edge?  For instance, here is a smooth, almost opaque stone which the waves have tumbled, smoothed and rounded. See how it  glows with inner beauty when I hold it against the sun?

Pale pink, translucent,

Rounded by incessant waves,

This very old soul.

Some friends are like that. Others will never be smooth or round. These friends are all corners and angles and crevices, uncomfortable juts everywhere. Such people are scarcely restful to be with, but they carry with them energy and an honesty that is sometimes uncomfortable but unassailable and true, and if those of us who know them can understand this, we  can appreciate their finer qualities. So, too, can we all admire the strong, stalwart but uninteresting block of granite that stands by the edge of the sea. There it is, uncomplaining, standing its ground and meeting storm and sea without fanfare or complaint. Strong, we think. Indestructible!  Yet, if we put our hands on that rock, we can feel the chips and pits and scars that life has made. And we see that this rock, too, grows warm with the sun and icy cold under the winter wind.

There are some friends, too, who are as transparent and as colorful as this piece of beach glass. What would we do without them? They bring a light touch to grave situations. They make us smile. Humor makes the world go round, doesn’t it? And the ability to laugh at ourselves is a most profound wisdom.

Through the years, some thought of as lifelong pals have gone. The lumps of coal masquerading as onyx have left. The bits of coral, which at first blush seemed to be so precious have departed for different company.

And, wait— here is a broken whelk. Once a beautiful shell full of life and color, it is scarred and chipped. It reminds me of mutual friends snatched away by death. These friends we keep so clear and vivid in our memory that they cannot really be lost to us. We speak of them often. We laugh as we recount some funny incident involving them. Then we share the tears that loves lost always brings, tears that bind our remaining circle closer than before.

At the end of my walk I set the damaged shell down near the sea and arrange the shells and the coral and the beach glass around it. Then I walk home, thinking that life is precious, that friends are invaluable, and that a good a cup of hot tea will taste wonderful with a large piece of home made coffee cake.

You see? Beach combing always gives an appreciation for the paramount things in life.

When the tide comes in

Our most important footsteps

Will be wished away.


About Maureen C. Wartski

I’m Maureen Wartski, writer, artist, wife, mother, grandmother; you can see that I have many of the bases covered. I was born in Ashiya, Japan, a (then) small town which lay cradled between sea and mountains. In the evenings, we would walk along the road that ran past Osaka Bay, and a great moon would rise out of the water to turn the world to silver. I’m told that my first words were, “Big moon!” All my life I have felt the tug to write something, draw something, put together something with fabric, string and color, and the urge to create has grown through the years. I suppose, then, that it’s a natural thing that this blog be full of the things that so many of you enjoy doing…drawing, making something with fabric, and writing. Yuri's Brush with Magic, my newest book for middle schoolers follows the adventures of a brother and sister, the magic of words, and the incredible magic of the natural world. I'd love to hear from you! You can send me a note at: maureen@wartski.org/ My blog is here: https://maureenwartski.wordpress.com/ Or friend me on Facebook!

9 responses »

  1. Maureen,

    Even if you became a beachcomber, you couldn’t take away your writer’s soul. You relate to your surroundings like only a writer can.

    Linda A.

  2. I reflect with a warm happy light on our days together at the beach remembering your friendship blog. For me, the most precious things in life are compassionate connection with other forms of life, human beings, all the world of creatures and the beauty of nature surrounding us. I treasure it all with enthusiasm and reverence.
    You are I are kindred spirits , enjoying our path as best we know how to – across this amazing planet and this universe we both happen to be fortunate to be on at the same time. I am blessed in so many ways , just of which is your lovely light in my life. May the Divine Spirit in the Universe enhance you path with happiness, good health and peace of mind in all ways every day . And, you write more wondrous blogs to share with us all.
    with love and gentle hugs from donna

  3. Dear Maureen,

    Your writings on friendship elucidate so well what I treasure as our long and mutually gratifying ” sisterhood” as it flourishes and grows over so many years. That marvelous creativity that you manifest in so many ways gives vicarious expression to that which I cannot myself originate but which I always feel you share with me so generously. I wish you all the artistic power you would want for yourself.

    Love Fran

    • You have marvelous creative powers! Who else but you could get together 16 women from all sorts of states and host a reunion with a rolling breakfast? Everything you do is golden….



  4. Hi Maureen,

    I am a friend of Amy Spaulding, who shared your recent entry about the connections we make while travelling abroad on Facebook. I enjoyed it so much, that I’ve been reading on . . .

    this particular entry is so beautifully written and it put me in mind of Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s “Gift From the Sea”. My mother gave me that book many years ago and I take it out and read it every year.

    This is a lovely tribute to friendship and individuality. Thank you.

  5. Thank you so much, Ellen. I’m flattered that you consider me in the same context with Lindbergh’s wonderful book.

    We are now in Italy… I hope you will re-visit the blogsite from time to time to read about our adventures!

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