Why I Love Beachcombing

North East Point Beach, Mahe, Seychelles
By Louise Pool
I live right next to the beach. (Yes, this is the post designed to inspire envy amongst all you inland folks.)

All that separates me from the seaboard is a not too busy "main" road, so on most days I can be found wandering the shoreline at some point during the day. Once in a blue moon (I'm aiming for more often) I'll be out at 6 am, walking briskly alongside the beach before stopping to watch the sunrise. Mostly, though, I venture out towards the evening to indulge in one of my favourite pastimes: beachcombing.

I started beachcombing early in life. For a couple of years (when I was three years old), we lived within walking distance of the wide beach in Ashiya near Kobe, Japan and went for a daily evening stroll en famille when my father got back from work. In those days, that beach was deserted except for the few workers drying seaweed at one end of the beach. I still recall the delight I felt upon finding a pretty little shell washed up on the sand.

Then we moved to Switzerland and the joys of beachcombing were restricted to once a year holidays at the seaside...

seaglass and driftwood windchime
Now that I'm lucky enough to live in the Seychelles and, since a few months, even luckier to live practically directly on the beach, I've taken up beachcombing again with a passion. I'm on the beach most evenings looking for treasures to turn into jewellery or other one off pieces of art. And sometimes I sell them, too...

driftwood lying on a bed of seaweed
Alas, I'm not finding too many treasures at the moment. Finding seaglass, driftwood and other gems on the beach depends on many factors. During certain times of the year, sand banks rise and cover up the debris from the sea; at other times there may not be enough surf to actually wash objects onto the littoral. My favourite time for treasure hunting is right after a storm when it looks like the sea has regurgitated everything she wants to get rid of. Yesterday's beachcombing yielded just one find... a piece of driftwood lying on top of a pile of seaweed.

rocks on North East Point Beach, SeychellesBut beachcombing is not just about finding flotsam and jetsam; it's also about combing through the mind. Walking on the beach listening to the waves gently lapping the shoreline (or at my beach, thundering and crashing onto the beach), feeling the sand squishing between the toes and smelling the salt from the sea can be a visceral experience. In some ways, it's the opposite of a sensory deprivation tank: all your senses are engaged and it becomes easy to let go of everyday thoughts and worries and just be in the moment. I've experienced most of my "Zen moments" on the beach.

And when I get tired of walking, I just take a moment and sit.

Now if I could only find that message in a bottle I've been waiting for all my life...

island wench signature

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