Saturday, July 24, 2010
Back from Bay, Found That Beach!
This is how hot it was. By Friday I was back in search of the elusive Claiborn Beach, bound and determined to find it. And I did! I credit a kindly local lady who told me how to get there -- exactly -- if I promised not to walk on her lawn. She did, I didn't, and -- voila! The public beach.
Claiborn Beach (deliberately misspelled) is a teeny tiny little spit of sand, liberally laden with oyster shells. The shells are hard to walk across in order to get into the water, but once you're in the drink, past the shoreline, you've got a sandy bottom. As in many parts of the Chesapeake, this shallow, sandy strand extends out into the water several hundred yards. You could literally wade two or three football fields in length out into the water before it got even up to your armpits.
You could, that is, except for that evil nemesis of the Chesapeake, the sea nettle.
Sea nettles are white, sheer jellyfish that range in size from a marble to a parasol. Once you've made an acquaintance with a sea nettle, you are no longer inclined to bathe in the mighty Chesapeake ... unless the temperature is a balmy 97 under cloudless skies.
How can I describe the sting of a sea nettle? It hurts. And not in just one little spot, like a wasp sting. It hurts wherever the tentacles touch. During my memorable bout with this vicious spineless Kraken, it got wrapped around my arm and stung me from shoulder to wrist. I yelped like a pup.
When the temperature is about to give you a heat stroke, however, you have to weigh the dangers of the Kraken against the knowledge that your hours are numbered if you don't cool off. So we plunged reluctantly into the surf -- self, Spare, Mr. J -- all three of us keeping vigilant watch for jellyfish.
We never ventured more than 15 feet from shore. Even there, several Krakens chased us back to the beach.
On such a bloody hot day, that little beach should have been filled with people. We were the only fools there. This was a good thing, however, because -- in addition to the much-needed cool-down -- I wanted some sea glass. And the bay gave liberally.
Have you ever seen sea glass? I love it. Let me explain what it is. Sea glass is a piece of a beer bottle, or other glass item, that somehow found itself in the bay. The sand scours the glass, removing all the sharp edges and dulling the sheen.
For some time now, I have felt that sea glass is a metaphor for my life. I once was all sharp edges, and crystal clear, and I could make people bleed by my pointy shards. Now I've been rounded and dulled. I'm calm. I won't hurt you, and my beauty lies in the changes time has wrought on me. Anne Johnson = sea glass.
Spare and I combed the beach and, in 30 minutes, found two handfuls of pretty sea glass. Oh! I wish I could go there every day, and then learn how to wrap the beautiful sea glass in wire for necklaces! Every person of a certain age should own a piece of sea glass, just to remind them that it's good when the sharp edges get erased by the sands of time.
Claiborn Beach is notable for sea glass, so whenever I can get down to the Chesapeake again, I'm going to search for more. I would like to be able to offer you a piece, reader, when I get a stable supply.
In the meantime, beware the "sea glass" sold at craft stores. It's factory made. Real sea glass is the color of ... well ... of glass. Most of it is milky white, or semi-clear, or the dark bronze so coveted by beer drinkers.
I'm glad I found some sea glass without getting stung in the process. I'm glad I found that beach. The prettiest places are hidden just at the edge of obscurity. You almost need to be sea glass to find it.