Faithful visitors to The Daily Seaglass Photo will have noticed a glitch in our system preventing the daily photo from posting for the past week. Fortunately, everything is back online and the photos are posting regularly again.The sea glass collecting season is in full swing here on the Pacific Coast, and summer is around the corner. Pacific storms become scarce this time of year, and the sea glass shoals shift and recirculate less and less often. Tourists flock to the local beaches in droves, carrying away the easily-picked pieces from the surface, leaving the avid collector extra work. The sun is shining and the days are getting warmer -the ocean entices us to play, with its deep blue swell and sunlit wave crests, so we don wetsuits for kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, surfing, and outrigger canoeing.The days are also longer and longer, allowing us extra daylight hours in which to take advantage of early morning low tides that would be otherwise impractical in the depths of winter. We wake before dawn, and depart to the beach with a hot cup of coffee as the grey sky gives way to blue. We watch the sun rise as we walk to our cove, the sea spray illuminated brightly and contrasting the dark blue sea. These special early moments nurture our appreciation for this beautiful coastline where we live and work.
This March in Northern California was the wettest in 80 years. Yes, we had our fair share of grey, drizzly days, but the rest seemed filled with sunshine and brisk winds. Calm seas were rare, but spouting whales were hard to miss from the shore on flat days. The grass is growing up green on the headlands, plum trees have erupted into fluffy white blossoms, and the days undoubtedly feel longer and slightly more luxurious.
Our collecting days were limited this past month by poorly timed low tides, inclement weather and high surf. We did have several wonderful outings nonetheless. Our most recent foray to the beach was a wet, drizzly, sloppy mess of a trip. Counting on “slight chance of showers” turned out to be a misstep. The air wasn’t cold though, and we were determined to get outside and have a nice afternoon despite the circumstances.Collecting sea glass in the rain is definitely a challenge. When the pieces get wet, all the rules of collecting change. Clear pieces are actually clear – meaning any piece beneath them shows through and the light is diffused, tricking the eye into believing a clear covering a brown is a beautiful piece of red! As if this weren’t challenging enough, pinks, purples and yellows are naturally such soft colors that when wet and surrounded by clear pieces, are nearly impossible to pick out. I find myself ‘willing’ a clear piece to be a purple, but I know my eyes play tricks on me, and I must really focus to be sure. Concentration takes on a whole new meaning, and we focus, trance-like on the piles of pebbles, sand and sea glass before us – at least until we’re too cold and wet to go any longer.Compared to other sea glass spots around the world, the challenges we describe would hardly be considered “challenges”! We recognize the beauty of our coast and the bounty of sea glass we are lucky enough to visit. We hope that these newsletters continue to give our valued followers and customers a slight glimpse into the world of collecting sea glass on the Northern California coast. So happy collecting, jewelry-making, or whatever it is that keeps you coming back to our site! Here’s to a beautiful April.
We rounded the point, carefully hopping and stepping our way through the tide pools and slippery rocks. Although the tide was negative that morning, the swell was huge, causing long surges of incoming water in the tide pools and beaches where we normally collect. I was so close to the cove, eager to step onto the polished mish-mash of seaglass and pebbles. I watched and waited as the surge crept ever higher. Finally, as though exhaling, the water seemed to recede, and I planned my footsteps carefully from rock to rock. I knew I had some leniency with my knee-high waders on, and planned to take the last step on a completely submerged rock just three feet from shore. Step, step, step... almost there! The water surged back in around my feet and I took the last step onto the submerged rock in haste. In an instant, my balance was gone and my body went down, as the last rock I chose to step on rolled to the side. My boots filled with icy sea water and my flannel-lined khakis were instantly soaked through. I tasted the pungent saltiness of sea water and seaweed as I pulled myself up out of the water and trudged high up on the beach. It was not a warm day. Clouds covered the sky and the wind was blowing directly onto the cove. No one would blame us for returning to the car where dry clothes were stashed and a hot cup of chocolate was 5 minutes away at the local coffee shop. But the conditions were perfect - just the sort we hope for when we're jonesing for purples and pinks. The boots came off and were emptied of a gallon of seawater apiece. Off came the pants (no sense in shivering in wet clothes when we're alone on our beach!), and the rain jacket was fashioned into a "skirt". A quick reorganizing of dry essentials between the two of us, and we were set for a beautiful afternoon of collecting. And no, it wasn't fun to put wet pants back on for the walk home!_______________________________________We have had a wonderful month here at Mendocino Seaglass. The weather has been uncharacteristically warm and dry for February here in Northern California, and the days are sunny and getting longer. We've enjoyed many hours of quality beach time, trying to get as much vitamin D stored up in our bodies as possible before winter (?) really sets in!Happy Hunting!
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Over the past week we have made three separate trips to collect seaglass. They were all successful, and the lighting seemed perfectly tailored for finding pinks and purples. In our many years of collecting seaglass, we've noticed that certain atmospheric conditions - haze, clouds, winter sun, summer sun - each have a corresponding color, or colors, that 'pops' out at you. We've also succumbed more than once to what we call the "seaglass gaze". After hours on hands-and-knees sifting through rocks and seaglass, our eyes start to glaze over - sort of like a MagicEye image (remember those?). The really beautiful pieces emerge from the field in plain view, just waiting to be picked up!
We're rounding the corner into the depths of winter, which for seaglass collectors is like an extended Christmas! Winter storms pummel the coast every couple weeks, churning up seaglass from underwater; pieces that may have been buried for decades offshore now find themselves drying for the first time under winter sun, far above the low tide line. Sometimes high swell will crash high on the beach for days at a time, rearranging hundreds of tons of rock and seaglass into huge shoals one week, and spreading it all out thin the next! The beach changes rapidly in the winter and the picking is good. We don't worry too much about fog in the wintertime, but even on the best of days we come prepared for a sprinkling of rain. Wet seaglass becomes more transparent, so soft colors become hard to distinguish, and dark or plain colors (green, brown) look awesome! We try to plan our excursions to the beach during the lowest of tides, but with consistent storm surges, even a negative tide is sometimes not enough to stay dry (stay tuned next month to find out who got wet this week....!).
Seaglass collecting in the summertime means you take your chances with beautiful weather, but expect the fog to roll in! Northern California gets its fair share of beach-going tourists in the summer, too, so we can expect to share the beaches with collectors in high numbers. The ocean swell is generally less intense than wintertime, and big storms are few and far between. Most noticeably, collecting in sunny conditions allows the eye to adjust to reds and oranges - colors that need a lot of light shining through to tell them apart from browns. Collectors with eyes sensitive to sun (myself included) will find that with so much glare from the ocean, sunglasses are a must, so colors such as pinks, purples and yellows become very difficult to see. Coastal California summers are famous for fog, and, while romantic, brings their own challenges to seaglass collecting. Summertime temperatures can drop rapidly when the cool ocean fog is pulled inland, so extra layers (sometimes even a hat and gloves!) are a smart addition to our backpack. Foggy conditions allow the eye to adjust to more muted colors that are all but invisible in bright sun - amethyst, yellow and pinks that are indistinguishable from clear become beautiful pastel petals just waiting to be picked up!