The Suitcase Lady


April 10, 2018, 8:18 pm

Things are getting a bit out of hand down at our local boat launch lately. The snow is still piled up and the temperatures remain below freezing, but the parking lot is often full.

The folks arriving aren’t towing boats. They are only interested in strip mining the stretch of beach that is adjacent to the pier.

Our house is on the lake two miles up the road. Because our home sits back atop a 70 foot bluff, we can’t see the beach from our windows. But the terrain around the boat launch is flat enabling our neighbors there to watch the activities on their stretch of lakeshore. They have filled us in on why our little town is suddenly a popular destination. Apparently, the internet has spread the word that big bucks can be made from harvesting beach glass and driftwood.

The glass rush seekers arrive with shovels, rakes, diggers and buckets. One claims to have made $100 in a week of zealous digging. Another was seen filling the trunk of their car with driftwood.

All this excavating and hauling will not harm the beach. The immense force of the waves changes the landscape of the beach every day. And, technically, beach glass is litter and driftwood is a renewable resource.

However, some aspects of this beach mining are hilarious, unbelievable or downright bizarre. One neighbor reports that the peak time for the diggers is at night. Since the nighttime temperatures and wind on the lakefront have been brutal lately, many diggers arrive in ice fishing gear. Hats with miners’ lights or high beam flashlights are used to “shine” the glass.

After midnight one recent night, a neighbor saw a person lying on the beach. He prudently watched for signs of motion before attempting a rescue. Then the guy stirred and our local resident noticed a woman, probably the guy’s wife, busily digging further down the beach. Apparently, he was just taking a few winks while has wife mined.

Another afternoon, a neighbor spotted a woman busily smashing bottles all over the concrete boat launch and shoving the pieces into the lake. Her car trunk was filled with glass jars and bottles. When asked what she was doing, her reply was, “I’m making more beach glass.”

This could only be an American story. It seems as if every nice thing is taken to ludicrous extremes. And then it’s not a nice thing any more.

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