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Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Winter Beach Combing, Glass Beach and Other Random Thoughts

This year, "winter beach combing" has not even felt much like winter beach combing.

It has been remarkably mild here in the Pacific Northwest-- to such an extent that several ski resorts in the nearby Cascades have simply "thrown in the towel" because there was no snow-- only mud. The part of me that's a gardener is a little concerned because "zero snowpack" at a time of the year where there's normally 150+ inches of snow on the ground (in the mountains) holds scary prospects for the water supply during the summer ahead.

Of course, it has been raining quite a lot... but rainwater in a reservoir is a different type of resource than snow being "held" on a mountainside, to gradually trickle down during the late spring and early summer.

Of course, the milder weather has made beach combing a more pleasant experience than usual, this winter. I have had no outings with snow and icicles forming in my beard! That's a plus, for sure...

From time to time, I have written articles (elsewhere) about sea glass being a dwindling resource. Trips to the beach this winter bears that out-- there is just less and less to be found.

The other day, I found myself reading someone else's blog post about Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, California, Quite a heated debate followed, in the comments-- there seems to be two schools of thought on the matter of collecting sea glass:

One thought is that sea glass is basically "garbage" and people should feel free to pick up as much as they want, when they walk on the beach.

The opposing view is that sea glass is a true "natural resource" and people should only LOOK, but not TAKE sea glass. Or maybe limit what they pick up to a handful of favorite items.

As a collector and sometime sea glass trader, I guess I fall somewhere in the middle. I feel that people should limit their taking to what they need, and what is "ready."

It does upset me when I see people on our local beaches-- and they are almost invariably "visitors from elsewhere"-- who treat beach combing like it's basically a "strip mining operation," going over every inch of beach with rakes, sifters and trowels, and taking ALL glass, regardless of whether it is broken or "fully cooked."

Of course, to me that's more an issue of not liking "human greed" than anything else. Greed tends to be the destroyer of many things we appreciate... and a simple fact of life seems to be that even if "a little" can be excellent, "a LOT" is not always better... and "a LOT" often is the cause of much unexpected "collateral damage."

The people in Fort Bragg are concerned that their famous "Glass Beach" will be picked over to such a degree there will no longer BE a "Glass Beach." And they'd be right to be concerned... there was once a "Glass Beach" of sorts around here... but there is about 1/10th of the glass on it today, compared to what was there just 10 years ago... almost all of which coincides with the growing popularity of sea glass, around the world.

I've also heard stories and read blog posts about people who have traveled to some place "known for sea glass," bringing with them two empty suitcases and then feeling all proud and pleased with themselves for "sending home 80lbs of sea glass." It leaves me scratching my head and wanting to ask the question "Are you actually going to DO something with all that glass... or did you just cave in to an unhealthy addiction to pathological hoarding?"

In spite of having been a sea glass collector and beach comber since childhood, and being a seller of sea glass on eBay and Etsy, I don't actually have that much sea glass... perhaps because I limit myself to picking up pieces I find pretty, or interesting, or "worthwhile..." whatever that means.

Of course, I don't claim to be "expert" on anything... I just know (from other areas of interest) from experience the damage that can be done as a result of a hobby or pastime being "overexposed."

1 comment:

Unknown said...

So this blog post addresses people who hoard unfinished pieces and how it can be wrong. As someone who can only go out rarely and only take the best pieces, i wish i had the time a proximity to a great beach like north Beach in Port Townsend. But as such it is a question which I have as a collector if someone had the time a proximity to a beach such as this is if one goes often and gathers the best pieces of the beach and then resells them for profit would then be similar to someone who gathers bad pieces to not allow them to polished and then available to people who rarely get out to collect them? To me the two are very similar in question since one disallows them to grow and be special pieces to be collected and the other gathers and resells for personal gain and also does not allowed them to be collected especially when the they say people should only take "what they need and what is ready." It seems like what is ready is what is ready to sell.

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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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