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|The Story of Sea Glass
is an old story I heard about sea glass, but no one else seems
to remember it. Perhaps it was told to me by the mermaids
themselves as I walked the shore anticipating a glimpse of aqua
or pink glistening in the sand.
Its goes like this. For hundreds of years, the mermaids, mermen
and merchildren would look forward to the human children
visiting the Chesapeake Bay shores after their chores to frolic
in the waves, escaping the summer heat. The children could
easily see the merfolk, and delighted in games and contests with
them for hours on end. The sand was soft and clean, and the
mermaids would keep small patches of beach as clear as they
could for the kids. This was no easy feat, as the merfolk have
bodies that are only half solid, not dense and strong like the
This is the way it was year after year, until the adult humans
thought it would be a good idea to save land space by dumping
glass bottles into the bay. The adult humans were very pleased
with themselves, since they no longer had to dig deep holes to
make a family "bottle dump".
once the tides started throwing the bottles around, any that
weren't already broken shattered, and sharp shards of glass
littered the beaches. The mermaids tried so hard to move all of
it, but the glass was much heavier than lightweight branches and
soft driftwood. Child after child began having injuries from the
glass, and the merpeople helplessly watched their pleasant young
friends disappear as parents forbid them to play on the
The mermaids and their children missed the little humans, and
though very sad, they busied themselves in their spare time both
day and night, carefully rolling the sharp glass in the sand and
on the rocks, making it smooth, with the hopes that someone
would realize the beaches were getting safer. But the sharp
glass kept coming. This may be the origin of the term "mermaids'
tears" for sea glass.
Occasionally, a few groups of children, mostly rebellious boys,
would visit the beaches. They would enjoy the water until they
too, would get injured by the glass. But the mermaids didn't
give up. Every time a small band of kids would visit a beach,
word would spread among all the merfolk along the bay, and
they'd work even harder. They became very creative with the
glass shards and would often fashion them into perfect
triangles, an ancient symbol for water. This went on year after
year. It is important to point out that merpeople age much
slower than humans and can live hundreds if not a thousand
The mermaids continued to work with the glass, and they noticed
that the adult humans were dumping less and less. There was,
however, a strange new bottle that would float up every so
often. It was lightweight, so the mermaids could corral the
"floating bottles" into piles along the beach. They were not so
sure what to do with it.
One day, a mermaid mother was watching her babies play when she
saw the strangest sight. It was an adult human, and he was
meandering along the beach with a walking stick as if this was a
fun thing to do. For years the mermaids watched most of the
adult humans busy about with hard work, enjoying the water only
with fast, loud boats and fishing nets. But this was so
different, this man seemed to be so peaceful.
The mermaid called to some of her friends and they swam toward
the shore, closer and closer to the man, who was now stooping at
the water's edge, looking out at the water wistfully. Mermaids
rarely get close to adult humans, as these are one of the most
changeable and unreadable of all God's creatures. But the bay
ladies kept moving, until they were right under the man's nose
so to speak. Though this man was in his sixties, the mermaids
agreed his eyes looked so much like Richard, one of the
rebellious boys that would frequent the beach, skipping glass
shards across the water. The mermaids tried to get his
attention, waving and throwing their arms in the air, but
Richard couldn't see or hear them. He had lost his sight to the
invisible realms as he grew older.
mermaids didn't give up, and they decided to try something else.
They combined their strength to toss a perfect blue glass toward
Richard. The resulting wave soaked his shoes, but the pretty
blue object caught his eye. He picked it up, examining the
smooth sides, trying to figure out what it was.
After a few seconds he smiled broadly, remembering his childhood
on this beach, and his glass tossing contests with the young
merfolk. Perhaps it wasn't childhood pretending. He began to
skip the piece. But it was so pretty, he put it in his pocket
instead. Then another shiny object tumbled up, and another.
Pretty soon Richard was scrambling about, collecting the old
dangerous glass that had transformed into beautiful gems. The
merpeople were ecstatic, and soon a large group of mermaids,
mermen, and merchildren were hastily working to toss the "safe"
pieces of glass further up to the shore.
Richard couldn't hear their cheers as he picked each beautiful
piece up and held it to the summer sun, but the merfolk were
nonetheless happy again. This was a wonderful game, and it
turned an adult human into an excited kid again.
Well, word spread of Richard's activities, and soon humans of
all ages were combing the Chesapeake beaches, much to the
delight of the merfolk. All this energy of fun and enthusiasm is
very healing to the waters. The mermaids would sing lovely tunes
and watch as the human adults attempted to decipher the songs
only the children could hear. Some of the adults, with much
concentration, were able to hear the beautiful singing, and
would even get a glimpse of a mermaid tail as they reached down
for another piece of sea glass.
So now, many years later, the waters are ever so slowly getting
happier and healthier. The merpeople are hoping the people who
love the Chesapeake will tell others how wonderful it is so it
can stay happy and protected.
So with the widespread use of plastic, will we run out of sea
glass? The mermaids smile and say they have it buried layer upon
layer in the sand...it will be around for awhile. Having a tough
time finding it? Simply make your request to the merfolk the
next time you're at the shore, and they'll help point it out to
you. Try it. If its a glass free area, they will certainly toss
up a nice shell, cool rock, or perhaps even an arrowhead as a
As we speak, the merpeople are still trying make all that
plastic as pretty as the sea glass. What a chore that is. And
they're working really hard to keep the pollution down too. But
they need our help. Please tell everyone you know to stop
littering. So much of that trash ends up in the bay. Make it a
point today do whatever you can, no matter how small a task or
donation, to preserve our beloved Chesapeake today. The merfolk