By Dana Smith
Some of Vermilion’s most notable features include several picturesque beaches. Sherod Park, Showse Beach, Linwood Park and Main Street Beach are each uniquely shaped by Mother Nature to offer something different for visitors and residents alike to explore. Besides sunbathing, swimming, and relaxing, a day at a Vermilion beach can often result in the discovery of multicolored glass and white, circular “lucky stones.” Both churn in the waters of the Great Lakes to later wash up on beaches and Vermilion’s corner of Lake Erie is no exception.
Contrary to popular belief, beach glass isn’t a result of sand coalescing. The existence of these beautiful glass pieces relies on broken bottles, shattered pottery, the surf, and time. Lucky stones come from the ear of the sheephead, or, freshwater drum, a fish few actually want to catch. Stones with the faint “L” carved on the surface come from the right side of the fish’s head, and are dubbed “lucky stones.” The left side shows a backward “L,” or, as some like to think of it, a “J” for “joy stones.”
Visitors to Vermilion often marvel at the creative ways the city’s residents repurpose their findings. Creating intricate jewelry, placing them in old jars, putting tiny brown pieces into an old Coke bottle, candles, wall art, and gluing white pieces to a bottle to give it the guise of a lighthouse are just a few possibilities, but a look at Pinterest or Etsy suggests plenty of ways to give new life to old glass.
Those who look for these unexpected additions to the Lake Erie shore can relate to the constant need to look down at the sand during every single beach walk, missing countless sunsets, boats in full sail, and tuning out conversations all for the sake of their beach glass quest. Experience results in discovering even the most camouflaged piece of glass at the quickest of paces.
Some tips? Look in the rocks and pebbles. Glass and rocks have a similar weight so they tend to wash up together. Brown pieces especially love to masquerade as tiny stones. Also, look in the water right along the shoreline-they practically glow in the water, making them a little easier to spot but harder to catch.
Watching one wash up on the shore might induce exclamations of, “Oh, a fresh one!” whereas finding one that’s made its way up higher on the beach results in a, “How could anyone have possibly missed this?” There are plenty of days where you find just one piece and others where you simply don’t have enough pockets to hold your finds. Other frustrations might include: finding plastic instead of glass; mistaking a leaf for a green piece; only finding brown and white (blue is rare and red is even more difficult to find); a piece that a rogue wave suddenly whisks out of reach-or worse, dropping a piece already found. Every beach glass collector understands that just thinking about how many pieces you’ve missed just makes you want to search more.
There’s a definite desirability in discovering beach glass. Maybe it’s the reward of seeing something created by humans changed by water, sand, and time. Or maybe people are just attracted to a glistening piece of glass that washes up into their path, begging to be picked up.
So head to the beach-Vermilion has enough of them! Grab your glasses, prepare for a sore but oddly rewarding neck, and start scouring the shores to start your collection.