Finding beauty in trash is one family’s summer beach ritual

| August 3, 2017 | 0 Comments

Courtesy of Lisa Smith Molinari

Lisa Smith Molinari
Contributing Writer

Every summer, the beaches of this nation are scattered with people who wander slowly, look quite seriously down at their feet, and bend over frequently.

Despite appearances, they are actually not contemplating the prognoses of their bunions, admiring their arches or watching their toenails grow.

For some reason, these people are compelled to search the beach for a particular type of trash, namely, broken glass.

No, they are not environmentalists, members of a chain gang from the local jailhouse or clean freaks. These strolling trash collectors don’t poke around in the swale’s flotsam and jetsam for any philanthropic, court-ordered or psychiatric purpose.

Believe it or not, they are placing broken glass in their pockets for the sheer pleasure of it.

What in heaven’s name is wrong with these people, one might ask?

Vacation mode
Strangely, not a thing. They’re simply on vacation.

You see, when we humans take a step away from the rat race for a summer vacation, we suddenly become curious about the world. We stop, smell the roses and notice the beauty all around us.

And interestingly, while on vacation, we find beauty in the shattered remnants of long-abandoned beer bottles, mayonnaise jars, wine jugs and other broken bits of glass that have been tossed about on the sea floor long enough to become sea glass.

Shades of white, brown, green and blue, it lures us on long, slow strolls along the shoreline, where we forget about the stresses of life and concentrate on seeing a glint of color among the infinite grains of sand.

We don’t like to think about the fact that our prized hunk of sea glass most likely had its start as a fisherman’s bottle of Budweiser. All we see is the beautiful juxtaposition of the sun-catching brown, green and blue against the neutral hues of nature.

When we are lucky enough to spot one of these rough gems of the beach, we squirrel it away, so we can take it home and plop it in a jar or trinket box, to be displayed and cherished like some kind of poor man’s Hope Diamond.

I must admit that leisurely sea glass hunting can become obsessive. While other beach vacationers lollygag in beach chairs over their latest novels, I am often intensely scouring the shoreline for sea glass.

This behavior might seem over-the-top if the sea glass is of the common variety, but it is an unwritten rule that, if one is fortunate enough to find a rare color of sea glass such as cobalt blue, lilac or pink, flagrant bragging is mandatory.

Spanning the globe
As a Navy family, we have been stationed all over the world, enabling me to collect my beloved sea glass from a variety of beaches.

I have jars and bottles of sea glass from Spain, Ireland, Italy, England, Florida, Mexico, Virginia, California, New Jersey, North Carolina and Rhode Island. My husband, Francis, thinks my extensive sea glass collection is evidence of some kind of clinical compulsive disorder, but I see it as a glimmering memento of our family vacations and tours of duty.

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Category: Community, Standing Columns

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