I’ve always appreciated beaches. I was fortunate to grow up along the shoreline of Lake Michigan, and nothing is more comforting than the sound of waves.
One of the greatest things being here is hearing the strong ocean waves outside my window every day and night.
I make a point of walking along beach nearly every day and taking a look at what washes up on shore. Beachy objects have become a part of the decor of the apartment.
Most notably, I’ve found shells of all shapes, sizes, colours and patterns. I never take “live” shells – only uninhabited ones! Indeed, sometimes I’ll pick up a shell with a creature still residing inside, and gently toss it back into the salty water. The “homes” that have been left behind, however, are little pieces of natural art.
Although sea glass doesn’t exactly have the proudest origins – it is, after all, a byproduct of human waste dumps or litter on beaches and from freighters – it’s nonetheless an elegant byproduct of human impact on the environment. Pieces of glass that in one way or another get into the ocean are tumbled around for a few decades, the waves and sand smoothing them into round, soft shapes and the salt water dissolving certain chemicals in the glass, leaving them with a soft, frosted surface before washing up on shore. I like to imagine where these pieces may have originated and what adventures they’ve been on.
Pieces of pottery, ceramic and glass that have similarly wound up in the ocean are buffed until their edges are soft and occasionally tossed back on shore. This piece that I recently found appears to be hand-painted before it was fired in a kiln.
I’ve also found some small turquoise-coloured stones on the shore. These do not seem to be common, but definitely catch my eye when I spot them. I do not know if they actually are turquoise (which is found in the area) or some other form of oxidized copper.
Birds of all kinds – pelicans, sandpipers, and other birds that are still unfamiliar to me – swim along the shore and pick their way through the rocks, eating small fish, crabs and mussels.
I do have to mention that the beaches, at least in this city, are not quite paradise. While they are appreciated by the local population – families flock to fly kites, swim, fish and I occasionally even see people surfing or wake boarding when conditions are just right – there are many broken glass bottles, metal and plastic trash and other forms of man-made junk and waste up and down the beaches. Stray dogs lounge along the shores, often leaving their little “gifts” behind to stink up the area. Perhaps all of this is to highlight how fragile the world’s beaches are, and how important clean-up initiatives can be in maintaining natural treasures like this for future generations to enjoy.