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CHASING DOWN THE MUSE:Sea glass: gems of the ocean, metaphors for life

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

“If I were to die tomorrow, this is exactly how I would want to be spending my time today...”

This comment, made by a friend on another recent gray morning, seemed to say it all as we focused on gathering sea glass. We were lost in the focus and pleasure of it — two small children at play.

We both went home with bags heavy with glass, mind images filled with the sand and its bright bits of color, warm hearts, and sore backs. What could be more perfect?

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It is, of course, my own tendency to see metaphor in all this. But maybe it is nothing more than the simple joy of friendship and being outdoors, with the “vehicle” the collection of beach glass. Could it be that it is nothing more? Is it just an excuse to get together and ply the beach, whiling away the gray day? Maybe.

There are — at least among my glass-collecting friends — certain rules of sea glass. Many a colorful piece is thrown back for weather, water, sand and rock to do their work. If a rare color or other aspect is seen, this can be very difficult to do, but of course rules must be followed. (Sometimes we will hold on for just a brief time before casting the piece back into the ocean, treasuring the possibilities.)

“Pure Sea Glass: Discovering Nature’s Vanishing Gems” is a beautiful book I discovered not too many months ago. The text is written by Richard LaMotte. The photography by Celia Pearson is stunning and well worth a long look at this tome. Pearson’s photos are pure eye candy.

The “rules” in this “Pure Sea Glass” book are much more stringent than those I and my friends follow. We toss back sharp or too large pieces, but this book states “it should be completely worn into a gem-like shape with a soft patina.” According to purists, the pieces must undergo thorough conditioning and weathering (terms discussed in the book as well.)

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LaMotte’s book is not only filled with beautiful images but contains a wealth of information. One can learn everything there is to know about collecting sea glass, including the history of glass and the types one might find and where they might be found.

Information can be found here like the fact that, while no two pieces are exactly alike, the triangle is the most common shape. There is even a section on the environment and the effect of plastic use over glass.

I highly recommend this book to all who love the beach. Still, it is probably another of those metaphors, but I would rather just pick up the pieces that attract my eye and my hand. I don’t think I will ever be a purist collector. I am happy to just do the gathering and to spend the sweet passage of time in this manner with a friend or alone.

As I ply the beaches near Laguna Beach and afar, my own rough edges wear away just as those of the glass shards that continue to catch my eye.

The time on the beach is as always regenerative. The hours that follow are centered and clear. That old Albert Einstein sure was a smart man, wasn’t he?


is a creative living coach, writer and artist who lives and works in Laguna Beach. She can be reached at emmagine@cox.net or at (949) 251-3883.

  • CHERRIL DOTY

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