Sunday, June 19, 2011

Blue Glass

My daily, morning, summer schedule usually includes a pot of coffee, a couple of hours writing before most folks are up and about, and a walk on the beach. It doesn't matter what kind of weather Scotland is enjoying on the day, but there are a large number of beautiful, sun scattered late mornings on many of them. Often I have the beach to myself, though that isn't a requirement for me to enjoy the activity.

Growing up, I used to see older people on a beach throwing a stone, or moving over the sands with magnetic metal finders searching for small treasures or an ancient lost city. Sometimes there'd be a good Samaritan with a bag, picking up discarded trash. I wondered if I could ever be the guy walking slowly up a beach just to fill my day's hours until another had passed without much to show for it. 'No, that won't be me.', I thought. What an idiot I was (maybe still am...).

I know it all falls under the category of 'stop and smell the roses', but I am always amazed at what I see on the same patch of beach, now that I am filling my day's hours. My beach has the history of an eleventh century church built on the slope overlooking me, and beach landings of Viking raiders on that same stretch of sand. There followed other centuries of settlement fishermen using the beach as their home while they plied their livelihood in the North Sea. I have a vivid imagination and can envision much of this. I putter among the tide pools discovering sea life waiting for the tide to change. Sure, I like the wild-flowers, or the waterfall that runs over the towering, red sandstone cliffs.

 In one of the photo's I took this morning, you can see seagull parents nesting with their young up in a cut in the sandstone. Thinking of seagulls, often, as screeching, feather-covered vermin that poo on my car...I was surprised at the cooing affection they were giving each other up there as they fed and protected the baby feather-covered vermin. Ok...I'll have to adjust my thinking on that issue.

In another photo there is a great blue heron walking through a tide pool looking for breakfast. Look closely, he's there...

However there is a particular activity that employs me on all walks on the beach any more. I search for blue glass. Blue glass is harder to find than green, white, brown, or amber glass. The rarest glass to find is red glass, but I am partial to looking for blue. Since the blue glass is mostly incredibly tiny slivers of the stuff, there are some key procedures that have to be employed. I find myself moving very slowly over a scrabble of small pebbles deposited in various spots on the shore, often stopping to hold my eye on one small portion of the sand....waiting for the right angle of the sun to sparkle up a hint of blue treasure. The shard is often so teeny that I have to dab it up on a finger along with grains of sand, and rub it between my fingers, gently blowing the grains of sand away until I have the shard, or the smooth rounded blue trace of glass that I drop into my shirt pocket for later inspection. Then back to staring at another two foot square of pebble deposit. Some days I realize that I have travelled the length of the beach and not raised my eyes off the sand. Today I finally lifted my head and there was a small boy out walking his dog, standing just ten feet away, looking at me oddly. I'm pretty sure I know what he was thinking. I wanted to say, '' really relaxes me and I just enjoy it!...Ok?''.

I've avoided picking up green or white glass up to now, because I'm a purist, and want to believe that my life has more meaning than the lives of those that just collect the glass that's easy to find. Starting today, however, I am also picking up particularly lovely green and white glass too. ' really relaxes me and I just enjoy it!...Ok?!'


  1. I love the two seagulls tucked away smack in the middle of the cliff. Can't wait to go glass hunting with you on your beach. (Sigh.)

  2. Whenever my feet hit the beach, my head is down, searching....searching....for any bits of beauty.
    Consider me jealous. Enjoy!

  3. I don't know why I haven't been following your blog! Your days on the beach sound lovely John! And the glass sounds like it's a lot of fun to hunt! Glad to hear that you are doing well!

    Feel free to follow back, cause my life is so busy, and that way we can kind of keep in touch!


  4. Reminds me of my days as a little girl on Buchanhaven beach. Collecting all kinds of treasures, mermaids purses, all kinds of shells, "dolls clothes" (seaweed)and glass (my presious stones)....white, green, amber and blue but never my ruby....happy hunting John x

  5. I still look at old people collecting glass on the beach - Jamie, for an instance, and think 'what on earth...'