The Earth is our First Teacher
Through her ancient wisdom we learn patience, connectedness and gratitude.
Through her infinite nurturing beauty, we experience an intrinsic bond with her life-giving power and vast well of replenishment. We learn throughout the transforming changes of her seasons and the ebbs and flows of her spiraling cycles. We learn throughout the awakening of each new day and the velvet darkness of each evening. (Sophia Roselyn Breillat)
Glass Beach ~ Recycled by the Ocean
In the early 1900's, Fort Bragg, California, residents threw their household garbage over the cliffs above what is now Glass Beach. It is hard to imagine this happening today, but back then, people dumped all kinds of refuse straight into the ocean...including old cars and their household garbage which of course included lots of glass.
Beginning in 1949, the area around Fort Bragg became a public dump and locals referred to it as 'The Dumps'. Sometimes, fires were lit to reduce the size of the trash pile (up to 30 feet high). However, in 1967, the city leaders closed the area. Various cleanup programs were undertaken through the years to try to correct the damage, without success.
Over the next 30 years the pounding waves cleaned the beach by breaking down everything but glass and pottery. The pounding waves washed the trash up and down, back and forth. Tons of polished, broken glass were created by the pounding surf. These smoothened, coloured glass particles then settled along the sea shore in millions ~ and so a magnificent beach was formed. The name was changed from 'The Dumps' to what we currently know as...The Glass Beach.
The sea glass that was created is the product of a very long and interesting process, taking anywhere from 10 to 30 years to make sea glass, the name for any piece of glass that finds its way to the ocean and tumbles around in the water long enough to frost and smooth its surface. Once it makes its way into the ocean, the glass is broken up into shards and is tumbled around in the water where sand and other rocks act like sandpaper to smooth out its rough edges. Sometimes as the sea glass is passed through fire, it becomes fire glass, the rarest of sea glass with certain inclusions just like precious gems.
In 1998, the private owner of the property determined that Glass Beach should belong to the public and in 2002 it became part of MacKerricher State Park, open to the public. Within a period of a few years, the Glass Beach won fame, attracting a large number of tourists every year. Way back in time, people wanted to dump their glass products on this shore; now they would try to get one of these pieces to take home as a souvenir. It is ironic but true that where once it was illegal to dispose the glass on the shore, it now is a crime to remove it. Visiting Glass Beach today is a unique experience. What makes it even more remarkable, are the sounds produced by the glass pebbles as they are being washed away by the gentle waves.
A Brief Fact Summary
For years, the water beat against the different kinds of trash being dumped.
Glass, household appliances and even motor parts were discarded on the beach.
The waves and weather conditions wore down the overwhelming amount of garbage in the water, creating millions of beautiful smooth rocks.
It was a disgusting dump due to carelessness, but nature corrected what humans ruined.
The beach's moniker was soon changed from 'The Dump'...to The Glass Beach, a more attractive name for the now-beautiful beach.
The Glass Beach and the surrounding twenty acres were purchased by the California State Park system and were incorporated into MacKerricher State Park.
The miraculous beach was finally under the protection of the state.
It's hard to believe the short-sighted mistakes we were making that could have potentially ruined this beautiful spot. But, thanks to natural processes, the ocean transformed the trash into the sea glass.
Each coloured gem on the beach has its own story.
The ruby red glass stones are typically from old car tail-lights.
Then, the sapphire rocks are the remnants of broken apothecary bottles.
The beach at Fort Bragg isn't the only glass beach in the world, as strange and beautiful as it is. There are other places in the world where Mother Nature put a stop to our foolishness.
If you want to see the sea glass for yourself, you can drive to Fort Bragg and be in awe of the power of nature. Even if we didn't mean to pollute The Glass Beach how we did, it's inspiring to see just how hard Earth can correct our mistakes!
Compliments I extend to Tom for this lesson from Mother Nature.
Our planet is full of amazing sights ~
if only we take the time to look!
Of Interest: Fort Bragg is located along the Coastal Highway #1 north of San Francisco...half way to Eureka...and only a few miles north of Medocino, also along the coast.
Merle Baird-Kerr...written September 23, 2014
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