The golden hues of afternoon warm the walls of my home, a place of messy piles: the fossils are there, the cigar box purses here, the shells are in glass jars that sit on the windowsill, making it quite inconvenient for opening and closing windows, but I like light through glass jars.
The shells in the jar were found on the beach, beauties that winked at me as I walked by, begging to be picked up and brought home. How could I refuse? They are sorted; all the Scotch Bonnets in one jar, drills in another, followed by jars of snail shells or scallop shells so pretty in their pinks and purples. One jar holds only shark’s teeth, black and shiny, save one or two grays. The black teeth are the oldest, fossilized; the gray teeth aren’t found as often. The most rare of the finds is white, youngest of all.
Another jar holds beach glass, bits of the brokenness of mankind; edges smooth and rounded, the surface is cloudy, all caused by years of being battered by the waves. This is glass I’ve found on the beach, but not here on Florida’s beautiful Gulf coast. In fact, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen beach glass down here.
I’d like to think that we here in the south are less prone to littering, but there is usually at least one small debris pile left on an early morning beach walk to tell me otherwise. More often than not, it is two abandoned chaise lounges, with four or five empties, beach glass of the future, perhaps, always of the same brand lying in the sand, the stubs of cigarette butts sticking out from the soft, white sugar sand. Sometimes there will be one or two sleeping bodies, but usually, by daybreak, the chairs are empty.
The beach glass that sits on my windowsill was found long ago, when I was a girl and yes, I’ve kept it all these years because I come from a family of savers. In fact, we pass it on, generation to generation, which is why the boys will inherit Wedgewood one day, whether they like it or not. They don’t, but they will keep it and pass it to their children, because it has worth.
Beach glass, of course, has no value, so it will be tossed upon my demise. Funny, isn’t it? Because when I hold the jar up to the light and see the blues and the greens and the whites and the browns, I see myself as a young girl at ocean’s edge, hair falling out of my pigtails, climbing over the rocks and boulders on the shore of Wingaersheek Beach searching for broken bits of glass.
Reaching down into the tide pool, turning over a small rock, sending an even smaller crab scurrying for better cover, I would find my treasure, glistening in the sun, disappearing with each wave that rolled in. I’d wait, timing the wave, as the sun burned against my back, and, just as the chosen wave passed, I’d plunge my hand in the water, quickly, surely, no second guesses, and hit my target dead on. My fingers curled over my find as I turned my head and waited for the next wave to pass, hoping I would hold my breath at just the right moment. I did, of course, because I understood the rhythm, but I never trusted that I’d known since before I was.
When the wave passed over my head, and because my eyes are not sensitive to salt water, I knew when it was gone and would let go of my breath, holding my find high in the air with a triumphant shout, especially if I’d found the coveted purple glass, rarest find of all!
No one paid attention to the child in the distance, climbing the rocks (where was her mother?), her shouts lost to the wind. The purple gem was tucked deep in my pocket as I eagerly searched for shiny glints of color, but seldom did I find more of the purple shades. I did not complain, knowing tomorrow’s tides would wipe the slate clean, rounding rocks just a tiny bit more and depositing new treasure and, after all, summer days are endless, are they not?
As my pockets grew heavy with the day’s finds, I stayed aware of my surroundings, perched amongst the boulders. I knew the waters and the timing of the tide as it rolled in and, when it surrounded the small island of rocks, dry at low tide, almost submerged at high tide, it was time for me to go. To wait longer was to chance having to swim in, in waters over my head, and although I am a strong swimmer, I was small and the current could sweep me into the Annisquam, where the big boats went.
Rather than chance such a fate, I would take my leave and wade in ankle deep water; as the ripples in the sand, carved sharp by waves, pressed against the soles of my feet. It was not a long walk, a few hundred feet, and soon I was on the dry sand, one of the few white sand beaches in New England, heading for my room in the cottage by the sea, where I would add the glass to the jar that sat on my bedroom windowsill.
All night the light from the Annisquam lighthouse flashed in my bedroom window; “one if by land, two if by sea” is a part of my soul; and in the morning, the jar sparkled with the rising sun, the message clear:
Beaten and battered, easily broken and worthless, to be sure, but presented under the right conditions, washed clean and held in clarity, the Light shines through as everything under the Son sparkles under the sun.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”
2nd Corinthians 4:7
As evident, I’ve decided to post writing samples first, with commentary on writing progress (or lack thereof) second.
There isn’t much to report. I’ve dusted off A Scent of Oleander and am actively querying again, a subject for a future post. SEO writing continues to trickle in. I’m now doing ghostwriting of sorts. It’s an interesting process!
It is full season here in Florida and while we are fully employed, there has been a definite drop-off in the number of estimates we have out at an given time. I suspect we are in for a long, hot summer. Still, it is good to be here, now, climbing my back out of recession.