Monday, August 25, 2008

LITTERING FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS


As I’ve mentioned a couple of times before, I am quite the beachcomber now that I live here on the Lake Erie shore. And one of the things I enjoy most is finding pieces of beachglass. Now, official beachglass experts (or seaglass, as it's more frequently called, even though it can be found on freshwater beaches of the Great Lakes) have studied the subject to great length, depth and breadth, and can tell you all the colors to be found, and how rare or common each color is. They can even say how many bits of glass it might take you to find a certain color, e.g. one is every 10,000 pieces seen and/or collected might produce a piece of orange – the rarest color. I don’t know about some of that info, I found a pretty rare color after just a few walks (and probably only a couple hundred pieces seen). Not that it matters, really. The joy is in the surroundings, playing tag with the waves, feeling the breeze, hearing the gulls…and finding a wave-frosted prize in the sand.

After looking at the chart of beachglass colors I realized that the really spectacular colors are becoming quite rare. For one thing, there’s not as much glass as there used to be. Plastic has replaced much so many of the glass containers of old, and along with that, the colors of glass available today are pretty much clear, brown and green. And then there’s recycling. Soon after that insight, while cupping my day’s collection of deep cobalt blue, bright turquoise, and buttery yellow in my palm, I formed an idea. I decided to haunt yard sales and thrift shops, and buy up as many glass items in red, cobalt and other jewel colors as I could find, and then when I had a big bag filled with them, I’d take them out into the lake and release them into the waves. I know it’s littering, but really, what’s glass but sand anyway. And eventually, if no one finds it, the beachglass will be ground away to nothing. But I like to think that in forty or fifty years, someone else will be walking along the beach and stoop to pick up a beautiful red nugget, be amazed, and wonder how it got there. I wonder about that now, only I know what I find probably went into the lake as someone’s trash. The future person who finds mine won’t know it, but it was put there just for them.

12 comments:

bobbie said...

You are amazing. I love this idea of leaving some wonderful thing for someone in the future to find and enjoy and wonder about.

I have a glass story. An elderly gentleman who lived nearby had lovely gardens each year. They were edged with rows of cobalt glass - heavy, triangular bricks pointing upwards. I asked where he had come by these beautiful blue bricks, and he chuckled as he told me. He was walking in the woods and came upon a half-buried pile of them. They were milk of magnesia bottles! He just pushed them into the earth upside down at an angle.

Deborah Godin said...

I love your glass story! It proves there's always easy, cheap and serendipitous ways of making things beautiful if you know how to look.

Poetikat said...

What an astounding idea! I've not done much beachcombing in my time - only shell collecting on the beaches of Nova Scotia and Maine, but it sounds a delightful pastime (brain freeze - pastime OR pasttime?)

Btw, I think I recognize that purple candlestick. I gave it to my niece as part of a shower present a couple of years ago!

Kat

YourFireAnt said...

What a lovely idea. I'm glad you're doing this.

When I go to NS in the spring I often pick up beachglass, and sometimes if the edges are too sharp I throw it back, feeling it's not done yet.

FA

Deborah Godin said...

Poetikat - LOL!! Reminds me of the yard sale theory. Have enough of them, go to enough of them, eventually everybody ends up with their own stuff.

FireAnt - "not done yet" What a great way to describe it.

Ron said...

I had a friend who used as much colored glass as she could find and made beautiful mosaic tabletops and other pieces from what others considered trash. Here on the North Carolina coast out favorite pastime is walking the beach picking up not only shells but anything colorful including pretty (smooth) pieces of glass.
I hadn't thought about someone actually scattering beauty on the waters on purpose! Great idea.

Sylvia K said...

I just found your blog through Bobbi and I'm so delighted that I did! I live in Seattle and have always loved being near the water -- in spite of being born in Texas! I love the idea of the colored glass and next time I'm at the beach I will look more closely.

me ann my camera said...

I have always loved coloured glass. First as a child, my grandmothers set of pink depression glass caught my eye, then as I got older the cobalt blue of Noxzema jars and Evening in Paris perfume bottles became favourites. Today my husbands collection of blue ink bottles line the windowsill above the computer. Yours is an interesting idea of salting the waters with future treasures for others to find.

Poetikat said...

I've bought my own stuff, got it home, scratched my head and said to myself, "haven't I seen this somewhere before? Ah yes..."

Kat

gardenpath said...

I love sea glass, too. So far, I have only found, blue, clear, brown and green.

Now I know what to do with all the extra blue bottles I have saved.

Bob Dylan said...

I enjoy finding beach glass. bobbie's comment reminded me of the Watts Towers in Los Angeles-there are M of M bottles in them, also.

magiceye said...

amazing concept! best wishes!