Beach Glass

Written By: Kathy  Hoffelder

My serenity. My relaxation. My Peconic. It’s amazing how when I concentrate really hard on finding that one particular item from the bay I never find it but when I don’t think about it, it’s there in abundance. Like the maroon colored stones or silvery shells with holes in the center that I either trip over or search for until exhaustion sets in.

It’s that way with beach glass. I don’t ever find enough to place in a pretty jar; usually I collect it piecemeal – a stolen piece here, a tiny shred there. I find it mostly when my daughter and son don’t need more sunscreen applied, a water bottle opened, or a missing water shoe found.

Having raised my children (now ages 6 and 9) on the Great Peconic Bay in Hampton Bays I always feared beach glass, ran from it, or simply captured it quickly so it wouldn’t destroy my child’s chance of normal growth, rip their toes for good, or at the very least, destroy my much needed weekend beach stay with a trip to the local hospital.

Now, I yearn for it – the smooth edges formed from too many water slappings, the bright colors, and odd shapes. I consider it a treasure to find. Mine alone. Or maybe, just maybe, I’ll share it with the passing seven year old girl that searches for it too. She might glue it to poster board or put on her dresser and forget about it. For me, I hold it close. I throw it into my bottomless beach bag filled with my kids’ snacks, goggles, and my daughter’s hair bands that I take everywhere. Or I stuff it in my wallet sandwiched between my grocery store discount cards.

For me, it’s a gentle reminder of Great Peconic Bay and how imperfectly beautiful it and all of its beaches are. Like each piece of beach glass I find, it has a story behind it somewhere as unique as its residents. They are not the fanciest people to visit the East End; they never will be. But they come for the same view and peace of mind that I do.

My Peconic. When I look at my beach glass at work or at home, I stop thinking about my overly stuffed calendar highlighted with camp stays, dental appointments, or work projects long overdue. Turning it over in my hand, I picture the sand, a little hard, a little rocky, and not too ivory but a bit yellowish. Not perfect, but perfect for me. I feel the gentle breeze on my face. My eyes dart immediately to the great rock, the one decorated by visiting seagulls and new moss on one side. The water is enticing. Others say there aren’t enough waves, but to me it’s just right. With too many waves, I couldn’t take it all in. I’d be preoccupied.

For a little while at least I am back overlooking the Peconic. It’s so clear today I see white sails lined up like ants almost touching Shelter Island. Some appear as if they crossing onto the Sebonack golf course but it’s just an illusion. I stare across at Robins Island with miles of bay in between and smile.

The chips are in the bag, I say on our next visit. How did you forget your goggles again? I gave them to you at the house. You really have to go the bathroom? You just went.

My litany of standard mom responses spills out before I am up from my beach chair again. My trance broken. My fix killed.

Finally I regain my seat and the serenity I remember. My Peconic.

All too quickly the sound comes back. I choose to ignore it this time, hiding behind my sunglasses. I have to. Just one more look at the great rock and distant windsurfer.

I’m coming, I say but I remain motionless. I sit in my chair. Just a few seconds is all I need. The response should hold them. I can push it a little longer, I think. After all, the kids are swimming at low tide. They’ll be alright. Their boogie boards are bigger than they are.

Can you throw us the raft? They ask for a second time. We want to tie them together. After a brief pause I agree, realizing they have a great pirate adventure underway and need their piece of the Peconic too. I snap back to reality and start to move but their dad got their first. I sink back in my chair, though my thoughts are decidedly interrupted. I remember I have two projects due Monday and a meeting on Tuesday I should prepare for tonight. And I didn’t RSVP yet for that birthday party for my son. Wish I could lose those thoughts but I can’t somehow.

I remember my beach glass at the bottom of my bag. Searching frantically, I find it. Flipping it over and over in my hand, I stare at it and remember the reason we came to the beach this weekend. I take a long deep breath. My Peconic.

About Us
My husband, children, and I visit my husband’s parents as often as we can at their beach cottage in Hampton Bay’s. I have been coming since 1999 but his parents have owned their little bit of paradise for decades. We live in New Jersey but my husband and his family have grown up on Long Island. We sometimes face 3-4 hours of traffic but we come anyway.