For years I’ve picked up pieces of sea glass as I walked along the Connecticut shore. Not all beaches have it. Though the beach I go to in Rhode Island is full of gorgeous smooth beach stones, I have yet to find a single spec of sea glass there. Of the Florida beaches I've visited, shells were the only impressive beach treasures I found.
There is something romantic about sea glass. A very worn down piece could have been ruminating in the ocean for decades. I know no scientific way of dating the glass. As I pick it up off the ground my imagination runs away to another time and place picturing the origins of each specific piece. It is sometimes clear from the shape of the glass that much of it came from bottles. Even though some of these weathered shards have obvious sources, there is still no way of knowing how they ended up on the beach. Perhaps the sea glass, originating from bottles, once carried messages to distant lovers; messages that never were received.
It is more likely that the bottles were left by local fisherman after sharing a few beers. I used to think that sea glass traveled from shore to shore, and the geographic origin of the glass was as ambiguous as the rest of it’s story, turns out that the beaches with the best glass were once dumping grounds for trash and bottles. This implicated that the glass stays on the beach where it was originally dumped to be tossed and thrown by the sea for years before being recovered.
Yesterday, I spent two hours walking around the beach with my head turned downwards towards the sand. It was a brisk day and I couldn’t believe how quickly the time passed. When I got home, I took out all the sea glass I’d collected over the years and spent the rest of the night sorting it into jars by color.
I had a large jar for the clear white glass and a small jar for the opaque. I had one large jar of green and a small jar of lime green. I had a small jar with only a few pieces of blue tinted opaque, which was a rare color. I had a large jar with dark brown pieces and a small jar with honey brown glass. Sorting the glass by color was extremely meditative, and I found myself wanting to continue even after I was finished. I schemed on when I would go back to the beach again.
Since I’m unemployed I decided I would go to the shore again today. I even set my alarm clock so I didn’t waste precious glass-collecting time in bed. I awoke this morning to drizzle and ice so I hit the snooze button. By afternoon, the rain seemed to slow. The news channel warned of thunderstorms but I longed to go back and get more glass. I decided to take my chances.
For a while now, I’ve wanted to move to the beach, Florida, Hawaii, somewhere warmer than New England. While at the same time I’d been taking the fact that I’m an hours drive from the shore for granted.
After several hours of collecting glass and driving around, I had no choice but to return home because the sun was going down. Once I got home, I unloaded the old glass with the new glass, and began to obsess over the color organization. I noticed that there were many variations of green glass. Aside from the lime green, which had it’s own jar and the blue opaque (which also had it’s own jar), other variants of greens began to stand out. There was dark green, medium green, light green, and light opaque green. I racked my brain as to how I would store them now that four vairations of green began to stand out. I supposed that the dark and medium greens could easily be combined, while the two variants of light green could be bundled together as well.
I couldn't decide whether I should separate them in four distinct jars- or maybe two- or if I should just leave them alone. And what if I did separate the greens? Would I then have to go back and pick through the browns and whites again? Would I have enough jars? I decided that perhaps I should not separate every single variant of green. Rather I should just stick to separating the outliers (like how I separated the lime green and opaque blue from the others).
Some interesting finds
I realized that my obsession with the separation and categorization of sea glass by each particular color grade, was equivelant to the ramblings of a mental patient, and if someone who didn’t know better walked by me while I sat on my bedroom floor arranging and rearranging these small glass fragments, they could easily mistaken me for one. While in actuality, these are the thoughts of a person who’s been unemployed for so long that they just don’t know what to do with themselves anymore. Someone who is just trying to create and maintain some sense of structure in a life that is otherwise falling apart.
And there it stood in all its glory dark green, light green, lime green, opaque blue, opaque, white, honey brown, and dark brown.