I picked up yet another stone full of expectation, hope and excitement…
I looked at it. I turned it over and looked at the other side. Nothing. I chucked it back onto the beach.
“I don’t think we’ve got the knack of this fossil hunting,” I said to Clare who was standing on the shoreline a few feet away.
“Yeah,” she replied. “We’ve got to admit it: we just don’t know what we’re doing.”
We were in Dorset, in Charmouth bay on the Jurassic Coast. I was seriously beginning to doubt the veracity of that name. “Dirty old rock coast more like it,” I muttered under my breath starting to feel disillusioned and a little grumpy: I had wanted to find a fantastic fossil to give to my children to remember the day by.
And then I stopped and looked around me.
The sun was blazing down. It was unseasonably hot for April and I had my shorts on and was paddling in the sea.
A few feet away my wife was wandering along the coat picking up pebbles expectantly and tossing them back into the glittering sea as the waves lapped at her ankles.
Beside her my daughter was following suit with a pink bucket in her hand full of the “fossils” she had found. The fact that none of them were anything other than stones she liked the look of was irrelevant.
I looked a few feet further down the shoreline and there was my son. Happily bouncing through the surf and chortling to himself as he tried to wade to France.
I stopped. Suddenly realising what was happening. “Clare!” I shouted. “Arun’s trying to wade to France!” I launched myself through the waves to retrieve my very wet and somewhat foolhardy son.
“I’m soaking wet,” said Arun looking at his clothes.
“Yes, but you’re very happy.” I replied looking at his enormous grin.
My mood improved as I realised that the sights around me were memory enough of the day. I didn’t need a fossil to make the day special.
A few hours later and still a little damp, covered in sand and fossil-less, we were in the car pulling out of the car-park. As we passed the exit, I stopped the car and nodded to Clare. She clambered out and disappeared into the shop.
A few moments later she climbed into the car. “Tah dah!” she exclaimed handing a big, bright, shiny and perfect fossil each to Arun and Meri. She looked at me and shrugged.
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