I am of the Tribe of the Sunburned Beer Belly, and the beach is my temple.
The warm weather is upon us. Gone are bulky sweaters, gone are trendy boots and scarves. Once again we are months away from Pumpkin Spice. Gone is the snow, the cold, praying Netflix puts something good on, and staring longingly outside through frozen and frosted windows into the icy abyss of winter’s bleak hypothermic grasp.
I am very fortunate to live in close proximity to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Let me rephrase that, I am physically unable to live outside of a five minute radius from the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The Dunes were formed many thousands of years ago when ice age glaciers slowly rolled across the region over the course of many more thousand years, leaving sand and the Great Lakes behind. This always works well as a metaphor for me, because any effort at the beach is one worth taking your time with.
The beach is the one place where you go there just to be at the beach. Agendas fade away. Time is relative, if not totally irrelevant, and if relevant it’s only inasmuch as the position of the sun in accordance to when you get to watch the sunset. The thing about sunsets at the beach, once you have seen one you’ll want to see the rest of them.
The things to do list becomes purely that of pursuing leisure, and the loftiest goal of your day at the beach should be accomplished from the moment you arrive when you get your bare feet in the sand.
One of the best zen things to do while strolling the shore is the hunt for beach glass. Litter is abhorrent, and you should always pack out what you brought in. It’s up to each of us beach visitors to help keep the scene serene, beautiful, and as nature intended; but luckily for hobby’s sake some slobs of the past, shipwrecks, and industrial dumping has left us post modern gems in the wake of their irresponsibility.
The formula is pretty simple, glass bits plus sand and water and time equals colorful bits worn smooth and rendered worthy of collecting in jars. Keen eyes and a slow meander down the shore reveals these treasures. It’s best I find to work in teams of two, so that when one finds a nice bit they can show it to the other, soliciting an “Oooooh,” before it is tucked away safely in a cargo short pocket.
Orange glass, along with yellow, red, and shades of pink are very rare. These are the prize jewels of the hunt, very sought after. Blues, from light to cobalt are the next rung down on the rarity ladder. Blues are hard to find, but if you spend enough time on the hunt you’ll get a fair amount. Ambers and browns, most shades of green, and clear are the commons. These are found in abundance as they typically began life as beer bottles.
In a single season you can gather quite a lot of beach glass if you are devoted. We like to fill jars that fill shelves, but if you are not attached to keeping them there is a market to sell that almost rivals the diamond market. Some folks make interesting jewelry from the shards, as well as a host of other crafty ideas like wind-chimes and lamps. My jars are symbols for me of the wealth of leisure I’ve found. They become trophies of seasons well spent toiling in the sands, and playing near the water.
A Few Tips to Help the Search
- A calm mind is a keen eye. Don’t let distractions of real life filter in to your conversations while on the hunt. Keep it casual and carefree.
- The best time to hunt is after a storm. When the waves churn they turn up treasures and deposit them on the shore to be found
- We always have the best luck walking into the sun, the light reveals glints of color to the eye; but we always start the stroll away from the sun and turn back when we’ve gotten far too far from the parking lot. You’d be surprised what you missed the first time around.
- If you notice someone else on the hunt it’s best to just sit for a while and let them put some distance between you. Competition is not good for the zen thing, man.
- If you see me out on the hunt, you should probably just go home. My beach. Mine. Your competition is really bad for my zen thing, man.
The sands of Hawaii, of Tahiti, or Santraginus V are fantastic. Unparalleled beauty of a serene tropical scene is what our spirits need to fend off the horrible Mondays lurking in all of our lives, but let’s face the facts: We don’t all live in the magical tropics. Beaches near you may require a small amount of cognitive dissonance, and a large amount of alcohol. My fabled dunes are hemmed in by a steel mill down the shore in the distance on one end, and a coal power plant down the other. Keep in mind we locals just don’t go swim on those ends. To erase the visiage and keep the scene intact beverages should be served to oneself in liberal quantities. Many beaches will have rules and regulations forbidding bringing booze, bring it anyways. Just don’t tell them I told you that. Hell, tell them, I’ll deny it.
You’ve been a grown up for some time now, I am certain you know more than a few ways to conceal your alcoholism. This is no different than a parent teacher conference or a job interview. Premix drinks and put them in other non-descript containers. Beer cozies are often enough if you aren’t drawing too much attention to yourself. Yeti makes a great one that Ozark Trail has copied in an affordable fashion. Drinking on a public beach is no more difficult than not being an example of why they banned booze to begin with. A little responsibility goes a long way.
The beach is a place where we can all go to just be. We let it all hang out, even if all is a
lot. Sun and sand give us a pleasant vision of a reality where humans exist mostly naked. Short people, tall people, skinny people, are all in their proper place and attire. Fat, hairy, waxed smooth, golden skinned, pale, or farmer suntanned sleeve, by speedo, or spectacular bikini bottom…everyone is normal here. (Although it should be noted that if you are male, and you wear a speedo you are going to have to be “That Guy” to make the look work). If you can squeeze your tentacles into a swimsuit you are doing it right. How to get the perfect beach body? Assuming you are not a non-corporeal entity, you already have the perfect beach body. If you are a non-corporeal entity that’s fine too, but unless you have a non-corporeal swimsuit you may need to check local nudity laws.
There is no body shaming at the beach. If you can’t reserve your judgments, try learning not to be an asshole. This takes practice, so you may want to either just go home, or invest in a pair of Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses to hide your view of the certain peril you impose upon yourself when you think yourself superior to others.
To follow suit, you should NEVER feel bad about being yourself at the beach. We all need
to feel comfortable with our bodies, let the beach become endemic of the rest of your life. Feel good about you, and don’t worry about anything else. If you can learn here where everyone is half naked you can learn to feel great at the office, or if all else fails you’ll know that you are going back to the beach this weekend. Do I feel bad about my bulbous sunburned beer belly when I walk past the golden kissed goddesses tanning themselves; slim bikinis barely hugging onto soft and supple youthful skin which glistens with sweat and suntan lotion in the summer sun? Well yes, but with a pair of dark sunglasses and a smile I walk onward. It’s not a beer belly it’s a symbolic representation of abundance. I am the beer can Buddha, I am one with all that I survey. I enjoy the show at any rate.
Gather up your towels, people of Earth, and head to the shores. Bring your BBQ, and your volleyball nets, your sandwiches that will soon enough contain real sand. Flip flops, umbrellas, and transistor radios, a chaise lounge or two. Your smallest swimsuit, and smaller inhibitions, your biggest beverage, and your best gal. From fun in the mid-day sun, to standing on the waterfront to your ankles in the waves that gently roll in around you while gazing at yet another perfect sunset… the beach makes for a perfect day.
We are all one people, the Tribe of the Sunburned Beer Belly. Stay tuned for on the beach updates as the summer sun summons me hence.