Thursday, January 26, 2012

More Reasons to Walk the Beach in Winter...

People come to the beach in winter for different reasons. In the comments section on a past post on this subject, readers often mentioned peace and quiet. Beauty, of course, should be right up there at the top of the list. Today we are going to review physical reasons for coming to the beach in winter, ie. what people take away. Last week Sven and I spotted a couple picking something up on the beach. What do you think it was? Here are some options ..

When I was a child, we would search the seashore for pretty shells. I remember starting a shell collection after a visit to Rehobeth Beach, in Delaware. On Cape Cod, bay beaches are where to look for scallop shells. In Wellfleet, shells can still be found at Duck Harbor, but the ocean beaches only offer the broken clam now and then.

Some folks come for driftwood. They turn a nice piece into a lamp base, or create a mobile, or simply put a weathered branch on the mantelpiece as a reminder of summer. Others drag larger pieces home for firewood.

In the olden days, Wellfleetians would cart home buckets of seaweed to fertilize the vegetable garden. Salt straw/hay was also collected on the beach. (In Eva and Henry, local author Irene Paine explained how salt hay was fed to the animals once the regular kind ran out.)

On the beach, you meet the occasional person with a metal detector. Everyone dreams of finding buried treasure, but these folks take that dream a step further, acting on it. Sometimes metal-detection becomes a hobby, but rarely do people discover more than scrap metal or a few coins. Read about becoming a licensed beachcomber here.

What most people will look for on Wellfleet's ocean beaches, in 2012, are stones, , and this is what the couple above seemed to be doing. Stones can be beautiful. One woman we met two years ago was collecting pretty stones for her pre-school class. Shelly Daly, a regular blog reader, turns them into jewelry. Some people use them as garden decoration. Others put them in the bottom of fish tanks. From time to time our guests collect stones on the beach, only to forget them in the hurry of packing. Stones are a great way to remember summer in the dead of winter.

A blog reader named Lynn shared why she collects stones: "When we are on Cape every fall, I gather the stones that speak to me. Then, I have them to tuck into a coat pocket, or my handbag, and pile them in selected spots in my bathroom, so when I feel I am missing my spiritual home too much, I put them in the sink and see the colors come back to life in the water. It always restores me!"

What do you take home from a visit to the beach and why?