When I beachcomb, I prefer to be alone. Completely alone, no one else on the beach at all. I don't mind other people on the beach, and I don't even mind the occasional companion but the ideal beachcombing day is solitary. It takes focus and concentration to spot sea glass or shells among the stones and seaweed. The stones and seaweed are interesting, too, and I often find myself squatting and taking notes on some odd plant or creature, or studying patterns on a rock that I won't actually take home. I'm curious about geology and marine biology and weather patterns and the way the coastal landscape changes every single day. Every now and then I stretch and look out to sea, watching the lobster boats or changing cloud formations.
Oddly enough, this solitary pleasure of mine has brought me into a surprisingly large community. I post my photos on Flickr, where an astonishing number of people have come to look at them. Some of those people are also beachcombers, and some of them are also artists, and so I have come to know like-minded photographers along the German coast of the Baltic Sea and the coast of Cumbria in Northwest England. Then someone led me to the Sea Glass Artists web site, a sort of social networking site for the sea-glass-obsessed. There I 'met' another collector who finds the most astonishing things on the shores of Long Island and has a wicked sense of humor. A couple of days ago my father sent me this article from Parade magazine, where I learned about the North American Sea Glass Association. Next up, exploring their web site.
And anyone who is interested in sea glass should read Richard LaMotte's book, Pure Sea Glass: Discovering Nature's Vanishing Gems, which thoroughly covers subjects like the role of manganese in forming lavender glass, how long it takes for glass to weather, and how to date a bottle by the shape of its top. Crucial reading for the terminally curious!