Our Shell Tree

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Every time I enter the separate world of my shell tree, I see my sister’s frizzy hair, my mom’s blue pock-a-dot bathing suit, and my dad’s hairy chest and khaki shorts the same as it has been almost 13 years ago. However, the tree is the only thing that has not changed over time. We have all gotten older, more stressed, and overtired.
It was two summers ago when I visited this piece of art, but not for the first time, it suddenly brought back so many memories. My parents used to call this tree a “??? ??? ?????? ??? ?????”(place like heaven). They used to tell me that it was, “?????? ????? ?????” (a place to step away and discover yourself). I never really took this to meaning as a child, but as I got older, more was expected, more technology was used, and more pandemonium was in my life.
When I laid my stressed eyes upon the tree after many years, all of my thoughts and worries suddenly melted in the sun. I instantly was taken back to the times where I had been carried on my dad’s shoulders, stretching my long arms to put up brown, striped shells that were larger than my hand at the very top of the highest twig on our tree. The tree was the center of our family picnics. It was the end of our long walks, the reason for stargazing on Sunday nights. I was a child again, and here I had no worries.
Our tree stands alone. It is ancient, perfect, untouched, and unclaimed. It is surrounded by thin, powdered sand, extreme rays, and meditating waves. Some look at it and call it a tree, however we call it “??? ?? ???? ???” (our one and only). It has hardly any leaves, and the branches consist of burned, puny twigs. It is not large, there are no flowers on it, money does not grow from it, and no grass surrounds it. What makes it special is that it is covered with shells, some white, some brown, many broken, and most that my family has put up when we have visited it over the years.
Our tree stands free. It shows its true beauty at sunset and nighttime when the stars and moon spotlight its simple glamour. It is like a pearl, making itself known to only those who can look inside of the ugly clam. Some may call it ugly, barren, dead, but no one can experience the impact that this taste of heaven as given us. It is our breath of fresh air when life becomes too hectic. It is our retreat to those old family days.
Our tree is located at my favorite secret spot, where hardly any people go. It lies at the very north tip of Clearwater Beach, near Caladesi Island. I have been to many places around the world, but it is only here that squeaky, pearl white sand can sink into my toes. It is only here that I can see the eternal beauty of the ocean. It is only here where I can admire the true beauty of birds and the sounds of nature. It is only here where I can realize just how beautiful our tree is.
It is our tree that acts as my comfort zone. When I am here, it feels as if I have no worries, that the tree is patting me on the back. Our tree takes away my pains and worries; it acts as a person who is not there in my life, telling me that “?? ??? ????? ???” (everything will be ok). It is only here that I am just a simple human being filled with happiness and no sense of time. It is only here that I can sit frozen for hours just starring.
It is our tree that has showed me that we must find a place to discover ourselves, to turn away from everything and just relax. It is my parents who told me to “?????? ???? ???? ????? ???? ?? ?? ???? ???? ???” (enjoy what you have today because it might not be there tomorrow). No one can replace those precious childhood picnics, or those nights falling asleep in my mom’s arms looking at the stars. This tree became our official escape, a place to run away from our everyday hectic lives. Whenever my family felt overwhelmed, we knew that we had to go on a journey to our tree. It is this tree that has restored the eternal innocence of being a child, and it is what saved my family from losing time with each other.
To this day we still visit our tree, and we will never stop. Every time I put a shell on a puny, burnt twig, nothing enters my mind or leaves it. I just stop thinking and stare. I feel the sun’s rays roast my brown body, and I look upon the magnificent ocean that lie in front of me. As I visit the tree, I gather any lonely shell that I can find, and I gently put it on the branches of twigs. I close my eyes and think of those childhood days. Time soars by, the breeze hitting my face, the ocean salt entering my nostrils. I taste eternal happiness, knowing that at this particular moment nothing will happen, I am just a single human being, putting a shell on a piece of nature that will always mean the world to me.





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