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  Updated 1-2-08




























Beach Combing Ainít What It Used to Be

By Brenda C. Birmelin

previously published in the Pelican Post

For years I looked forward to the day when I could retire and spend my idle hours combing the beach for exotic shells and pirate treasure. Iíve been beach combing for two years and the closest Iíve come to treasure from a sunken pirate ship is one small shard of colonial pottery. Iíve picked up enough fishing tackle to outfit a novice fisherman. Iíve found enough plastic buckets and shovels to keep my grandson busy until he gets his driverís license.

Beautiful shells abound on the beach. I was very creative with the thousands of shells I picked up. I decorated lamps, mirrors and picture frames.

I filled antique jars with tiny sea shells. Then I expanded to the outside. Itís just amazing how many ways one can decorate with shells. My neighbors never cease to be amazed. At least thatís how I interpret their strange mutterings as they stroll by my property. By the time I decided I should find a new beach combing task, my house had more shells than a Marine ammo dump.

I joined the Beach Preservation Society and started to pick up trash. I canít say much for the quality of my finds, but the quantity is always there. The Southern tradition of fireworks on the beach really keeps an old trash picker busy. scooping up cardboard, sticks and red plastic is the "morning after" result of all that celebration. Unfortunately the reveler is rarely the one who does the scooping up. Iíd surely like to see a rebate on fireworksí leftovers.

Plastic can be deadly to sea life. Unfortunately a dolphin canít tell the difference between a jellyfish and a piece of plastic. Aquatic animals may be able to breathe under water better than us landlubbers, but they canít digest plastic any better than we can. Imagine trying to eat a Styrofoam cup for breakfast. My reward comes from knowing that every piece of plastic I pick up could save Flipper or one of his friends.

I thought I was being rewarded when I received an invitation to the Beach Preservation Societyís Rockiní Party. What I didnít understand was that a Rockiní Party invitation is an opportunity to pick up all the newly dredged rocks on the beach and pile them near the access.

In the back of my mind, I can hear my Mamaís voice saying, "If you donít straighten up, youíre going to end up working on a rock pile." I never knew Mama was psychic.

Copyright 2006 Brenda C. Birmelin

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Brenda is a native Tar Heel and a card-carrying member of the UDC.  She has written humor pieces for a local tourist publication including one called, You Might Be a Coaster If...   Brenda was involved in a  partnership-published book called, If Laughter's the Best Medicine, I Can't Be Sick.  She also has been published in Women's Glibber  and The Best Contemporary Women's Humor.  

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