I grew up near a beach and spent much of my childhood sloshing through tide pools, getting squirted by anemones, and collecting shells, kelp whips and other treasures that were not allowed past the patio outside the basement of our house. So I eagerly accepted an offer from my friend Marilyn to go beach combing during the lowest tide of the season in search of beach glass. Ideally, the treasures we would find would be frosty turquoise or pink-colored shards that had been softened by years of thrashing about in tides and waves, rather than yesterday’s green Heineken or brown Coors bottles.
Unfortunately, all the beach glass of today’s low tide had washed up on some beach other than the beach where we were walking.
Marilyn did find a black rock with white barnacled imprints that formed a beautiful, abstract pattern. And I found a perfectly shaped scallop shell. I had hoped for more, given that the last time we had gone beach combing together I found a beautiful pink and blue marbled glass pipe, which seemed like a great find until my husband informed me that it was a bong. It still represents the most unusual beach detritus in any of my past collections.
For me, reliving this childhood activity was another way to create a sense of the unscheduled life. In this case, inching along the rocks, trying to avoid slipping on the seaweed, and keeping my eyes focused on a small area around me looking for half- buried treasure, with no thought to time or responsibility, brought out a feeling of freedom that I last felt at a much younger age, probably in college and certainly as a child during the summer.