One of the things that fascinates me here is the sea glass. Laurie has a beautiful collection, sorted by color in jars and glass containers throughout the house. She picks up pieces while walking through the sand and surf in Cape Charles.
These beautiful smooth-edged, matt-finished pieces began their lives as bottles and glass wear. The color is the main clue to dating the piece. Most of the glass found today is from the first half of the 20th century. Most will be clear, brown, or green. Sea glass most treasured is earlier and can be red, yellow, turquoise, teal, black and citron. Since 1970, the beginning of the recycling era, sea glass is becoming rarer and harder to find, as it isn’t being replenished.
One of the reasons Cape Charles hunters and gatherers can still find sea glass, is tied to the history. Blood Island, just off the shore, was a known “party” island during prohibition. Guess where they tossed the bottles? The railroad ended here at Cape Charles, dumping tourists and money into the little seaside resort, and dumping the refuse into the bay. Several ferry lines ran from Cape Charles and nearby tie ups, and tossed bottles and dishes and other things into the bay.
Years go by, and as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, “The tide rises, the tide fall, the twilight darkens, the curlew calls; The little waves, with their soft, white hands, efface the footprints in the sands, And the tide rises, the tide falls.” And all the while pieces of colored glass tumble through the sand and over the pebbles, dropped, swept, tossed, buffed and smoothed, to be floated onto the shoreline. Maybe I’ll take a shore walk in the morning and see what I can find. I have a little dish I keep mine in. It sits on top of Anita Shreve’s novel, Sea Glass.