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Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Ebbs and Flows of Life on the Beach

For the past few months, I have spent much less time on the beach than I could wish for. And I have spent much less time "playing with my glass," than I could wish for. In more ways than one.

Beach combing has always been a catharsis-- the beach and the sea have healing properties for me. Maybe that's not true for everyone... however, I start feeling a bit "disconnected" from the world, if I am away from the beach for too long.

Sarah (my honey) recently commented "You really should get a web site going, for your sea glass." We've talked about it, for a long time... a place to write about sea glass and its origins, and showcase some of my sea glass photography. I already have the site "reserved;" I already have this blog. But getting it done has become yet another thing I "wish I had the time for." Although I don't really do "New Year's Resolutions," definitely something I would like to get to, in 2010.

It seems that not only do the tides of the beach ebb and flow, often LIFE itself ebbs and flows. The "stuff of life" has been keeping me somewhat away from my photography and beach combing.

The aftermath of my mom dying (she lived overseas) in August has been time consuming. Making a living in a depressed economy has been time consuming. Dealing with some personal stuff in my life has been time consuming. Creating the "platform" for a better future has been time consuming.

Aside from "tides of life," the beach itself has been "ebbing and flowing," too. Mostly, it has been ebbing.

An article in the Seattle Times (which reaches close to a million people) back in May offered a lot of exposure to sea glass, but unfortunately gave all but "perfect directions" to a piece of beach previously only known to a limited number of hardy enthusiasts. Of course the beach is public property, and I recognize that-- but "over use" of ANY resource is never a good thing; regardless of whether we're talking about fishing, mining, or collecting sea glass.

On one day during this past summer, I counted ONE HUNDRED people on a stretch of beach where I used to perhaps see a single person, every few hours. Many were not "beach combing." They were there with buckets and rakes and shovels and coolers and "manpower," like they were trying to run a "strip mining" operation on the beach.

I take a small amount of solace in knowing that I was not the person who told the journalist where I usually beach comb. His wife beach combs there, too. I wonder if she's as disappointed as I am...

This all brings me to ponder the ebbs and flows of life, again-- and how "a secret" stops being "a secret" when EVERYone knows about it. That amazing hamburger joint around the corner gets featured in the Sunday paper, as a result of which their "amazing" hamburgers become "mediocre" because they have to assembly line mass produce them.

The landscape of the beach changes, too. I mostly beach comb at the base of tall escarpments made up of sediment from the last ice age. These (sometimes 300 feet high) slopes are largely made up of compressed sand and clay, and the erosion and slope collapses have been extensive during the past 12 months-- which means a layer of fresh 10,000-year old sand is laid on top of the material/rocks that contained much more recent material... including sea glass. People often think it is heavy storms that bring down the slopes-- more often it is heavy rains followed by a hard freeze. The water gets into the ground, near the top, expands when it subsequently freezes, and cracks start to form. Eventually, a chunk of compressed sand the size of an apartment building gives way and lands on the beach, changing the topography of everything as the sea and tides eat away at it.

As some wise person once observed: "The only constant in life is change."

1 comment:

kadfoto said...

Great post. I suspect the Seattle Times article was about a local stretch of beach I've attempted to keep hush-hush about. It's disheartening to see these "secret" places move into such bright light, be it beach, mountain or otherwise.

I'm sorry to hear of your mother's passing. I hope you're able to return focus to beach combing and photography soon.

About Me

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1960 vintage Danish national now living in the Pacific Northwest... active in the global HSP community; active beach comber and sea glass collector; lifetime collector of postage stamps from Scandinavia; writer and consultant, primarily to the metaphysics and self-help industries, writer at OM Times magazine; artist who doodles on rocks; eBay & Etsy entrepreneur and studio and production assistant at Radio Nahmaste.

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