Living in the Puget Sound area of the Pacific Northwest all my life has been a blessing. I grew up in what is known as West Seattle, which is close to the seashore. In the summertime, in the neighborhood where I grew up, the neighborhood kids would hike once or twice a week down to Lincoln Park where we could spend the day on the beach or swimming at the salt water pool for $ .35 cents a day. I suppose it is this time spent on the beach at an early age that has set the rhythm of the waves in my blood and made it still my favorite place to be. Beach combing became a way of life before I had ever heard the term. Local scout troops always made their way to the beach on minus tide days for an education in marine life and a chance to see the landscape normally covered by water.
On a normal day, turning rocks to uncover the hermit crabs and watch them scramble was a favorite past time, and looking for sea glass and shells became second nature.
Beach combing is a wonderful, healthy and relaxing past time for me even now. Just walking along a stretch of beach with my head down is to be content.
Public beaches are the only place we are allowed to forage, of course, and it is important to note that it is illegal to take drift wood from the beach. The drift wood helps with the ecology of the beach and helps to prevent erosion. When we seek treasures on the beach, they are only tiny treasures – well, technically not treasures at all by some standards, since they do not have much in the way of monetary value. But a handful of sea glass is, to me, a treasure indeed! Occasionally, a rare piece will be found – blue or red, or a piece that is unusually shaped, but the Puget Sound isn’t the best place to find the truly coveted rare pieces that are used in jewelry making today. That doesn’t matter to me. The value of beach combing for me lies in the doing of it- not in what is found or not found.