Oswego winters are less than kind. They can be cold and oppressive, and sometimes I even find myself asking why I came here. Being from Rochester, I am used to enormous amounts of snow in short periods of time. That being said, it can get tiresome after a while. But winter ends and the seasons turn through their cycle-the warm weather will eventually return. Days where the sun warms the lake and there is just a hint of a breeze, I dig out my flip flops to head down to the rocky beach. Either by myself or with friends, one of the things I love to do most is hunt for sea glass. Beautiful, small pieces of broken up bottles in different colors that wash up to the shore; sea glass is something I discovered when I was a child.
My mother took me to a neighbor’s house, and as they talked about what was going on in the adult world, I stared at the countless jars and vases lining the shelves, filled to the brim with faded, smooth pieces of glass. Some of them were sorted by shapes or colors; others were just tossed in a beautiful mix. There were bright blues and rich greens, soft reds and pale yellows.
"Mom," I asked, "What are those?"
Our neighbor was eager to explain her prized collection, telling me where she had found most of it, and even letting me hold a few pieces. They were smooth and rounded; I found them much prettier than normal glass. I was captivated, and ever since then I’ve been on the hunt for my own pieces of aquatic treasure.
Since coming to Oswego, my fondness for wandering the beach looking for wave-worn glass has grown. I would have never guessed that in my literal college backyard would be a veritable treasure trove. However, I was shocked to find that not many people know that sea glass exists. A few of my friends grew curious, so I brought them along with me. They began to understand my passion; soon I was watching my friends kneeling in the shallows, digging small holes with a stick in the hopes of finding something just a bit brighter than a wet rock.
Sea glass actually has a range of rarity. Rare colors include reds, oranges, black, pink and purple. More common colors, and the ones that I’ve found the most of, are brown, green and light blues. I’ve actually had the luck of finding orange, one of the rarest. Colors can fade after being tumbled by an ocean or lake for years, so orange, not having faded to yellow, is a rare find, and one I was able to celebrate with the friends who I had educated. The best piece I have ever recovered was the entire bottom of an old soda bottle. It was perfectly preserved while still having the washed out look of genuine sea glass to it. Bigger pieces are hard to find, as the glass tends to wear down after a while.
It is relaxing, in a way, to splash in shallow water and find tiny pieces of bottles past. Winters at Oswego promise sledding, snowmen and comforting cups of hot chocolate. But when winter gives way to the sunnier weather, and you’re able to walk the lake without first bundling up, head down to the shallows, and see if you can’t spend a few moments looking for some sea glass.