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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Wintry Mix...

There's not much beach combing around here... during the month of November.

I decided to brave the elements because I wanted to see what had washed up after recent storms, and today offered one of the few tiny windows of opportunity for a beach trip... with a slight dip in the tide level starting around 2:30pm... and continuing till dark, which occurs about 4:30 these days.

It has become rather wintry in the Northwest, over the past couple of weeks. Amazing fall foliage has given way to bare trees, cold rain and high winds. As I made may way to the parking lot by the beach, I didn't realize that it had also snowed a bit, overnight.

There are a lot of "microclimates" at the end of our peninsula. I have often seen it be completely dry at our house, only to find a day of pouring rain-- or snow-- in town, less than three miles away. Today it seemed like the central ridge got 1-2 inches of snow, while nowhere else did.

Being the weekend, there were lots of cars in the parking lot. However, I expect most of them belonged to people taking their dogs to the adjacent state park.

The tide was still very high as I set out-- only a narrow band of large rocks separated me from the waves... and it made going very slow. I think of this as an "ankle breaker" beach, and I did not look forward to making a 3.5 mile trek along that type of footing. And things did not improve. After about 15 minutes of slow going, I realized that the storms had not only "rearranged" the beach... but had also beaten the offshore kelp forests to bits, and now I found myself waking on large rocks covered with a six inch layer of slippery seaweed.

This didn't bode well for my day. Even if the retreating tide were to leave behind a decent expanse of beach, a thick layer of seaweed makes it all but impossible to get to any washed-up treasures. The fact that I was probably the only one beach combing today offered little consolation.

A large vibrant deep turquoise glass bead
Fortunately, my favorite stretch of beach-- which it took me almost two hours to reach-- was not entirely covered by seaweed. Sadly, though, the long time it had taken me to get there also meant that I had less than 90 minutes before I started to lose the light.

As the light fades, the darker colors become invisible first, and eventually the only thing you can make out are the clear pieces, which look a bit like moonstones in the semi-darkness. One exception to this is the fairly rare "vaseline glass," a pale lime green which seems almost "illuminated from within," in low light.

In the end, the findings of the day were fairly modest-- the storms had not turned up large volumes of new treasure, and I'm beginning to think that maybe this piece of beach has simply been "picked clean," largely as a result of the repeated "exposure" from newspaper articles. A "secret" doesn't remain a secret for very long if everyone knows about it-- if you know what I mean.

A few highlights of the day included a large bright turquoise oval bead (pictured above) in perfect condition-- with the hole intact and free of sand-- a nice find, and in a rare color. I also found a nice aquamarine "cat's eye" glass marble, a larger piece of pastel yellow (the only "rare" colored piece of the day) and a large (about 1 1/2" long) clear "egg" piece. I can only speculate as to its origins-- perhaps a finial or "knop" from some kind of glass serving dish? It was perfectly symmetrical, and in lovely frosted condition. Who says clear sea glass can't be interesting?!?!

The remainder of the day's finding were quite "ordinary" and now await sorting, at some future date. I had hoped to find more large pieces-- often the case after a storm-- but most pieces I saw were quite small, and uncommon colors were few and far between. There also seems to be a lot of damaged/chipped pieces-- which I always throw back, so they can "cook fully."

Of course, there is more to beach combing than merely "finding sea glass." I go for the exercise and fresh air, as well as for the cathartic and meditative qualities of being on the beach for several hours. As I turned around to head back home (around 4:00pm), I was treated to a beautiful winter sunset, and the sound of bald eagles in the treetops, settling in for the night.

It was quite dark by the time I made it back to the parking lot at 5:45. The last half hour was very slow going, not only because my legs were tired, but because the footing on softball sized rocks covered in wet seaweed-- in the dark-- was treacherous.

This will probably be the last (and only!) time I get to beach comb, this month. The tide/daylight combination is about at its most unfavorable for beach combing, at the moment. There will be a very small window of opportunity again at the beginning of December... and unless the weather is absolutely horrible, I will be out there, looking to sea what new treasures the ocean has washed up!

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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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