We’ve finally arrived at the last post in the Nova Scotia road trip series, a mere two weeks after the road trip itself concluded. (!)
A few days before we left for Nova Scotia, I mentioned Oak Island to Beloved. I remember learning about the Oak Island Money Pit in school when I was a kid — it’s a mysterious site just up the coast from Lunenburg where they have been trying more or less since the late 1700s to get to the bottom of a mysterious pit loaded with contraptions and booby traps that have thus far managed to foil any potential treasure-hunters. The treasure itself is unknown, but rumoured to be everything from spoils from Blackbeard and Captain Kidd to Marie Antoinette’s jewels to the Arc of the Covenant. (Not much hyperbole there, eh?)
We were intrigued. The site is currently closed to the public, and though we corresponded briefly with a lovely woman from the Oak Island Treasure site, what would have been a very cool private charter of a small boat that would take us around the island with someone who used to be a tour guide at Oak Island didn’t work out. Would have made a great blog post, eh?
But, on our first night in Lunenburg we discovered an entirely different kind of treasure from the sea, and we were instantly addicted to collecting it: sea glass.
Sea glass, also known as beach glass, are small pieces of bottles and other glass items that have been buffed by the sea, sand and salt water until the edges are smooth and the surface is frosted. It takes a decade or more for the sea to wear the sharp edges down. The most common colours of sea glass are the green of wine bottles, the amber of beer bottles, and clear glass. Less common and more valuable are blues, yellows and reds.
When we went to Bar Harbor in 2007, I’d found a few tiny pieces of sea glass and was delighted with them. They’re each about half the size of a pea — just wee grains, really. When I saw in the description of the cottage we’d rented that “our” beach was renowned for sea glass, I figured we’d find something similar and come home with half a dozen or so shiny little bits.
Instead, we found the motherlode of sea glass. It was *everywhere*. The first night, we walked the beach in the briny fog just to explore and found mounds of the stuff. I was wearing cargo shorts and had to hold them up with one hand by the time we walked back to the house, so laden were my pockets with gorgeous chunks of sea glass. The next day, we filled a ziploc baggie. By the time we left, we were filling a small bucket AND baggies with each excursion. (Yes, we are the obsessive family.) And the wonder of it was that each high tide, one at 6 am and the other at 6 pm, replenished the supply.
Lucas showed his first differentiation of colour when he expressed a preference for the “green ones” and would walk up and down the beach with me picking up only green bits of sea glass and then dropping them ceremoniously into my bucket as he declared “another one green one” with pride.
In short order, we became sea glass experts. The amber and green ones are the most common (beer and wine bottles, mostly) with clear also common. Blues and pastels are more prized, and reds and oranges and blacks the most rare. We also found bits of pottery worn smooth and crackled.
I read online that it takes decades for the sand and surf to smooth and buff the sharp edges and to give the glass the characteristic frosted look. I’m fascinated by the idea that for some reason, the tides pull glass to this particular beach and not one just a few kilometers down the shore. So cool to inspect the pieces where you can still see some of the decoration and speculate from where it came.
We collected so much sea glass thatfrankly I’m not sure what to do with it all. I’ve put some in a glass vase in the living room to remind us of our trip, and given some to my mom. I put some in another glass container and put it in my window at work, and I have yet more still tucked away into a ziploc baggie upstairs. I could sell it — it fetches a pretty price on etsy for crafters. Or I could keep it and make sea glass jewellery myself. In, um, all my spare time.
Beloved and the boys and I were so enthralled with our daily beach combing in search of sea glass that we debated the merits of quitting our day jobs and simply living in the summer house, collecting and selling sea glass online. There’s that much of it!
Our trip to Nova Scotia was amazing in so many ways, but the sea glass was the most unexpected and the most delightful of all. And we’re already making plans to go back. I’m just not sure if we can wait until next year.
Edited to add: So many of you have e-mailed me asking about the location of our secret stash of sea glass that I thought I’d be nice and share the location here. Happy hunting!!
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