Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Today it's raining steadily, but I have in my hand the first few pieces of beachglass I collected this season, found on a sunny afternoon at the little beach just down the road from my house - a couple of bits of old stoneware, a tiny piece of an old patternware plate; a bright green chip with a hint of a ridge (I think it might be from a vintage 7-Up bottle), and a nameless piece of clear glass, turned yellow by the action of the sun's UV rays on its chemical composition.

A trip to the big beach near the ferry dock almost always yields more spectacular finds, like old medicine bottle stoppers from the turn of the century before last, and interesting blobs of "bonfire" glass - bottles and other glass items melted in a trash fire, then dumped in the lake, and left to roll around for decades til they're frosted and ready to be storm-tossed onto the beach to lie like uncut gems in the sand - but any walk on a beach is a good one. I put beachcombing in the same category as birdwatching. A leisurely obsession that takes you for a wonderful walk outdoors, with often the reward of seeing something new and amazing to identify.

Here's a favorite poem I copied into my notebook from an issue of New Yorker magazine, sometime in the 70s I think it was - I didn't save the issue. It's like a piece of beachglass itself, a small treasure I've carried with me for decades. Now that we have the Internet, I've tried several times to find out more about the poet, but so far nothing has turned up. If anybody knows anything about her, I'd love to find out more, read more.

Going Home

Tonight when we're back in another land
We shall not empty our shoes of sand
We shan't untangle sea-snarled hair
Nor rinse our souls of salty air

Susan Thurrott


bobbie said...

A delightful bit of poetry. I wonder if the author could be traced through the New Yorker?

Quiet Paths said...

I love the beach glass analogy with this poem. It is exactly the way I feel about visiting the ocean.

Lin said...

ah, beachcombing- we are renting a cabin on oregon coast in late august with another couple-Caryn and her husband. Can't wait to smell the salt air.

Indrani said...

How you observe little things and you have a poem to share too.
Lovely post!

Shellmo said...

This poem makes me long for the days as a kid when I played on the beach. I always loved finding beach treasures.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

There's nothing better than walking on the beach and finding special things. When you see the beach glass, does it remind you that it once belonged to someone???? How special!!!!

We're leaving for the beach in NC on Saturday for a week. I always look for special shells and starfish when we're there.


Anonymous said...

I have been on the sand the last couple of weekends. Yes, I did bring home bits of treasure like yours, my windowsill jar is gettin full.

That poem expresses just how it feels to come home with salty lips, and sandy shoes.

me ann my camera said...

Irecall when you mentioned collecting beach glass last fall and I remain intrigued eager for my first beach visit this summer to begin my own collection. lovely poem, Ann

Ruth said...

Beaches, shorelines, treasures from the water...I love them all. I don't know why we settled inland. Could I have waved to you this weekend?

Cloudia said...

I so enjoy your sensibility and walking on da beach with you!

Rose said...

What do you do with your beach collections...do you save them? I think it would be fun to collect them in a clear glass container that you could see them and them bring back memories of walks gone on before.

mom/caryn said...

I have a good friend who collected sea glass in a clear vase. The vase was shaped like a huge brandy snifter and the effect of it on her table with a couple of sea conches sitting next to it was dramatic.

I have horrible luck at finding sea glass. I look every time I stoll along a beach. Although I find myself so intrigued at watching the sandpipers chasing the tide that perhaps I get too distracted to really search.

You stated it so perfectly. "Any walk on a beach is a good one."

The poem was well worth keeping for the last several decades!!
Thanks for passing it along.