Saturday, September 3, 2011

Lost our Marbles … over Sea Marbles

In one of our previous incarnations, when we were still working for a living, Lawrie and I owned an antique store on Bowen Island in British Columbia Canada. (My apologies, I should not use that four-letter word, work, in a family orientated newsletter.) We have always been interested in things antique, or classic - such as his enormously varied collection of classic English and American cars, a 1959 mahogany Continental Chris Craft speedboat, our families Irish, Scottish, French, and Canadian genealogies, and collectable furniture, toys, or hand tools, so, when Marcy Watt, an island friend loaned me a book “Pure Sea Glass” by Richard LaMotte, I was hooked. I have been sorting through all the bits and pieces that I have collected from the beach along this side of the island and have found a few really interesting shapes, colours, and patterns. I even found a perfect black and cobalt-blue marble that somehow had made its way to our beach.

Sea Glass and Marble Found on our Beach

A marble? Huh! Well I had to “Google” that one and discovered that there appears to be a number of theories as to how marbles arrive on beaches.

First of all, there is the obvious reason - kids playing with them. However, we have not actually seen any kids on this island playing with marbles, and marbles in general lost out to other more sophisticated toys in the middle to later 60’s.

The second possible reason is that house painters have been known to toss a handful of marbles into a can of paint to keep the paint well mixed while they are working. Back in the “old days” it was acceptable to dispose of empty paint cans in the ocean, thereby allowing the ocean currents to work the marbles out of the remaining paint and eventually deposit them on the beach.

The third possible reason is the one that really fascinates me - they were used as ballast in ships’ holds. Cool! The marble that I found is in much too perfect a condition to have survived a number of decades, grinding its way from the deeper parts of the ocean, across the reef in front of our house, and onto the beach. But the romance of a sunken ship somewhere in the deep waters east of our island ….well, that’s just too good to let go without a struggle.

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