The Ugly Beautifuls
On a recent family trip away to breathtakingly beautiful Kalbarri, a small coastal town on the West Australian coast, we spent a lot of time walking the seemingly endless length of the untouched beaches and collecting shells. In the evenings, we’d lay them all out and sort through the treasures we’d found.
Kids love to sort and categorise and this was especially true for Baby G. Long after the bigger kids had gone off to do what big kids do, she could be found inspecting each and every shell and carefully considering where it belonged.
She had very specific piles. She explained that The Curlies were the shells that she could hold to her ear and listen to the sea. They had curly insides and that was the part that she thought was special. Eyes glinting, she proudly showed me The Pretties, named because they were pearlescent and lovely. Seriously, she held up one of the group that looked like mini volcanoes and declared that they were called, logically, The Volcanoes. Next to these were The Interestings, named so because they couldn’t be categorised but were cool and needed to be picked up and kept, nonetheless. Finally, with a solemn face, she showed me the last of her groups and, with reverence, she declared them to be The Ugly Beautifuls.
I looked down at this group of shells and inwardly giggled. They really weren’t beautiful, but she sure was accurate when it came to the “Ugly” descriptor. They looked like little brains… small whitish blobs of shell, shaped like pieces of brain.
I asked her, “Baby G, why do you call these The Ugly Beautifuls?”
She smiled and motioned for me to lean closer and then softly said, “They are The Ugly Beautifuls, Mum, because they are really ugly, right?”
She leaned in as she whispered, conspiratorially, “But look at this, Mama…” She held my hand open, turned my palm upwards, and gently placed one of the little blobby brain shells in the centre. “Turn it over”, she directed.
I turned the shell over and gasped. The other side was perfectly polished, porcelain-white and smooth and was inlaid with an utterly perfect spiral pattern. Beautiful!
She grinned, “See, Mama? The other kids didn’t pick these up because they were looking for Pretties and Curlies but I found these all by myself! At first I thought they could go in The Interestings group but then when I looked at them, really all over, I saw that they are actually beautiful. All you have to do is turn them over! Isn’t that cool?”
Yes, Baby G, that’s cool.
Way after she went to bed, the goosebumps were still raised up on my arms. May my daughter always have the kind of eyes that can see The Ugly Beautifuls.
Here are some pictures of Kalbarri, one of the most exquisite places I’ve been and it’s right on my doorstep! Western Australia is simply amazing.