Friday, October 20, 2006

Flotsam and Jetsam: Waterfinds from Jenny

As a little girl, I spent hours on the beach in Bay Ridge, near Annapolis, Maryland. I sang into the wind, poked jellyfish with sticks, "cooked" with seaweed, collected shells and stones and beach glass and the occasional prized piece of pottery. Of all the things I found on the beach, what I remember most clearly was a bloated beagle who washed up after a storm. He still had his collar and tags, and was obviously someone's beloved companion. We imagined he might have fallen from a boat during bad weather.

The beach finds that seem to have stayed with me the longest are the most bizarre. Those who know me will not be surprised by this. The two things I have to this day from that beach of my youth are a dental bridge and a little clay pot pipe.

I found the dental piece in the sand and was very impressed that it included a piece of real gold. As a nine-year-old, I thought I could have it melted down and made into a piece of jewelry or trade it in for cash. As the years passed, I realized it was not really worth anything, but could not imagine just chucking it out in the trash. How did it find its way to the beach? I imagine some seasick or drunken sailor lost it with his lunch over the side of a boat.

The pot pipe was cleverly stashed behind one of the pilings near the beach, still full of residue. I recognized the smell because my dad was a pot smoker, too. My guess is that it belonged to a teenager who was sad to find it had gone missing. I don't think I told anyone about that particular find, but stashed it in some secret place in my room. I was excited to have found something so illicit and showed it off to my friends for years.


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