Someone placed clamshells spelling HUNTER about two feet high and four feet wide. Nearby, a stick lay broken where someone else, presumably Hunter, tried to scratch the same letters in the sand, some big, some backwards, punctuated by the tiny scribble of shore birds. I walked to the jetty and back.

Hunter's thin, tanned mother made three appointments on her cell while he collected clamshells, the larger the better, most of them bigger than his hands. Hunter's mother slipped a flattering skyblue wrap around her waist, applied lipstick while telling Hunter, "Time to leave for dinner".

Hunter kept collecting clamshells in a yellow mesh bag with a drawstring, dragging it along the sand like the treasure it was. "Hunter, you can't possibly need ALL of those shells," said the mother. Hunter, who was probably two years old at most, looked up, "Yes, I do...Dad said I could."

Dad was nowhere in sight. Hunter's mother said, "There will be no Ice Cream Man tonight if you don't listen." Hunter, (who I was totally rooting for at this point) replied calmly, "I hate ice cream now...and Dad said I could bring home as many shells as I wanted."

Ultimately, the mother distracted Hunter. His yellow mesh bag sat forlorn as the tide went out until I saw a man carrying Hunter on his shoulders obviously looking for the bag. I was secretly happy Hunter won and hope the kid remembers never to give up.


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