Collecting Sea Glass

Jan 6, 2016 by Gretchen Ellinger

SEA GLASS 005One of the joys of living in Puerto Peñasco is, of course, the beach! I love walking the beach, especially early in the morning, especially at low tide, especially at high tide…any time I can get away for a walk on the beach is my favorite time. Puerto Peñasco is blessed with many beautiful beaches, and I love them all, but my favorite place to walk is Cholla Bay.

Cholla Bay is situated on a peninsula west of Puerto Peñasco, and the north side of the peninsula is home to Cholla’s amazing estuary. Here the tides vary greatly from high to low tide; at full and new moons the high tides often lap the sea walls that protect the waterfront homes, and the low tides reveal a wonderful stone reef teeming with sea life that is seen only a few days each month. Folks gather clams from the estuary when the tide is out, some for commercial sales at the fish markets, others for their evening clam chowder.

Perhaps because of nearby sea currents, or perhaps because of its unusual tidal behavior, Cholla’s estuary seems to attract all manner of debris; on my walks in the estuary I have found crab traps, fishing nets, toys, rope, shoes, bricks, chunks of wood, clothing, fishermen’s gloves and rubber boots, tires, tools, plastic bags, and even a yellow rubber slicker, which was in perfect condition after hosing off the sand, and which I gave to a fisherman, who was glad to have it.

I have also found lots of broken glass along the shores of the estuary. Most was “garbage” glass…newly broken, dangerous to bare feet, and destined for the trash. However, some of the glass had been smoothed and frosted by the sea before washing onto the shore for me to find. The “sea glass,” that which had been tumbled and transformed into little gems, mostly colored various shades of green, went into a large glass bowl in my dining room. After a dinner guest mistook it for salad in the candle light and drenched the glass with salad dressing, the bowl was moved to my office, and I was surprised at how many people were fascinated with the glass.

I started purchasing clear glass cereal bowls and filling them with my sea glass treasures. When full, they were wrapped in clear plastic, tied with ribbon, and given as gifts. The recipients loved them! My friend who knows how I enjoy collecting sea glass sent to me an article from “The New York Times” (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/19/science/19glass.html?emc=eta1) about a sea glass collectors’ convention. Turns out that there are books about collecting sea glass, sea glass experts, people who specialize in identifying the origins of the glass, even an association of collectors of sea glass! Who knew? I still collect the “trash” glass, and still save the sea glass for gifts, only now with new resolve. Since I know there is an association for us glass collectors, I feel newly appreciated, and can justify what I knew to be true…that time spent on the beach is time well-spent! Time on the beach will be a priority in 2016.

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