MY BEACHCOMBING DAYS started when I was a child back in the 1960s on a beach called Veasey Cove along the Bohemia River. We would arrive for the weekend in our homemade wooden houseboat powered by a 75 Evinrude outboard motor.
My husband and I now own a 43-foot Silverton Sport Bridge. Our boats may change, but beachcombing has not. Whenever I look at a beach, I cannot help to think about the treasures that may lie in the sand. I can’t wait to walk the shoreline and find new gems to add to my collection, and we are always searching for new beaches to explore.
My father and I would wander up and down the beach for hours and collect rocks and driftwood. On many weekends, I stuffed rocks and wood into my duffle bag and carried them home for various art projects. I would place the rocks into a polisher and wait patiently for the outcome. On most occasions I was disappointed, only to see that most rocks were more beautiful before the polishing.
Mother Nature, combined with the currents of the Chesapeake, has a way of revealing lovely metamorphic rocks, along with other igneous and sedimentary forms. When I stumble across an igneous rock, which is formed by cooled magma or lava, I often wonder how it came to this place on the volcano-free Chesapeake Bay. And to this day, I still tuck all my seaside discoveries into a duffle bag and carry them back to share with my friends and students.
A Paleontologist’s Playground
One of my favorite beachcombing locations is the Calvert Cliffs area in southern Maryland, where no digging is required. Just walk along the beaches and find the popular Miocene fossil known as the shark tooth. Many skeptics ask, “What is its value?” The shear thrill of the first find of the day is worth millions.
I return to this spot every year hoping to find the “big one.” I just have to say this never gets old, and I look forward to this expedition every year. By the way, you don’t need to restrict your quest to the cliffs or state park; any beach close by guarantees a tooth or two. Bringing along friends to share the adventure makes the search more fun, especially when you land on these beaches in inflatable dinks or kayaks.
An Indian arrowhead that I recently discovered in Still Pond is one of my favorite finds. This beach on Maryland’s Eastern Shore is an excellent spot to comb for historic sea glass and pottery. When I picked up the arrowhead, I envisioned Indians in their canoes paddling in the current and searching for their dinner. From homemade wooden canoes to homemade wooden houseboats, we may have changed, the boats may be different, but the current of our waters remains the same.
My friends and I frequent a location we call Sea Glass Beach, where we arrive in our small out-board boats. Sea glass, or glass that was once someone’s trash, is now our treasure. The glass has spent many years getting tossed around in the surf, where Mother Nature turns rubbish into beautiful frosted pieces with smooth edges. The amber and purple ones are the most sought-after colors. When one of us finds a rare color, we all run to see. We leave Sea Glass Beach laden with all shapes, sizes, thickness and colors and bags full of sea glass waiting to become part of art projects.
Our homeport is Fairlee Creek, MD, aboard the Coco-Mo where we spend many hours exploring the water’s edge. The swift current and small cut washes many artifacts onto the beach. The best treasure here is the sunset, as this beach overlooks the western shoreline and presents an expansive view of the bay. Be sure to time your visit for sunset, and I guarantee this trip will be worth the stop.
Beachcombing has always lifted my spirits and filled my pockets with fascinating items. Now, I travel the coastline with our friends and family. I realize that strolling along searching for sea glass, shells, stones and teeth offers not just me, but all of us, a natural way to enjoy the many Chesapeake beaches. I feel blessed and look forward to our next expedition. Please remember to always bring along an extra bag to clean the debris while searching for your treasures, and maybe our footprints will pass in the sand. Happy treasure hunting!
Annette Calbeo is the 2nd Place Winner of Marinalife’s 20th Anniversary Story Contest.