The light clouds shield us from the sun, and a gentle marine layer hangs over Puget Sound. Down a nondescript, residential street, we had driven to a parking lot full of spaces for oversized vehicles, but empty in the early morning. We made our way a short distance, passing an abandoned general store, sagging under the weight of its second floor — its walls still displaying remnants of the chipped green façade from a bygone era, an ode to the past.
We quickly found ourselves at a quaint, pebble beach. With the waves lapping gently at the coastline and the nearby forest making its way to the water’s edge, the scene evokes thoughts of a tropical oasis rather than a residential community.
Here we start our search for gems. Not gems of the conventional sense, but gems all the same – beautiful, frosted shades of blues and amber, some smooth from years of relentless sanding, and some not quite “cooked enough.” We are sea glass hunters, spelunkers determined to find a unique fragment of the land’s history. There we walk, scanning the ground in search of the next discovery, exhilarated by the find.
We have the beach to ourselves, aside from the occasional “poof” from the water that lets us know a lethargic seal is eyeing us just offshore. Small fish leap out of the ocean, evading larger predators and the relaxing seal, giving the illusion the water is dancing. The cool, moist air underneath the forest canopy is reminiscent of a jungle climate, with salt air mixing with the sweetness of the local flora. It is a magical morning as we fill up our bag with sea glass finds, wondering about the history of each piece, and amazed at the journey it took to find its way to the beach. As we walk down the coastline, frequent breaks provide us with the opportunity to take in our surroundings. Freight ships pass in the distance on their way to and from bustling ports and the Coupeville to Port Townsend ferry is just a dot on the horizon. As the clear water from the sound flows in, it deposits new rocks and shells while pulling others back out to sea.
Sea glassing is a meditative experience. A centering one. Walking in nature, searching for the faded yet beautiful fragments of history, connects you to the place. Picking up the dulled shards of glassware used long ago inspires my imagination. I can’t help but think of the past and how this small piece of history has made its way back to the island. Much like the history that has brought me to this land, I am reminded of my ancestors’ past in this beautiful place and how I, just like sea glass, have made my way back home.