A Buggy Field Trip to the Gardens and Beach

When we entered Washington Oaks Gardens state park, a sign warned us that "Mosquitoes are plentiful in the park today." Sea glass jeweler Shannon Maureen Russell, my wife and I were planning on having a picnic in the park and even taking a garden stroll, but the sign merely made us giggle. "Plentiful" sounds like the way you'd describe flowers or frolicking butterflies, not the way you would explain what turned out to be swarms. If only we heeded that inadequate warning...

The blood sucking insects filled our faces and flew into our nostrils, yet we trudged on to the rose garden with its "plentiful" blooms and zipped back and forth between the scented flowers like crack addled hummingbirds with tourettes syndrome. "Ack!" "Go away, mosquitoes!" "Bah!" and a handful of more colorful shouts were randomly spouted. Shannon wittily pointed out that she was so busy trying to take pictures that she had forgotten to stop and smell the roses, but it was just as well. Every time I tried to inhale the fragrance, I breathed mosquitoes instead. As you could imagine, the sight of us trying to eat our lunch was a humorous one.

We tried darting around the formal gardens to snap up photos of the bird of paradise plants and leather ferns, but I think the mosquitoes were trying to eat my phone as an appetizer. We didn't spend too much time there.

The beach was another story. A storm was forming just to the west and its anvil was spreading out over us, filtering the light in the most magical way. The palmettos, grasses and other seaside plants made a gorgeous tapestry of different textures, and the sky was deep blue. It was excellent lighting for spotting sea glass, and after all, that's what we set out to find. Shannon, my wife and I followed the wrackline with the focused gazes and practiced stoops that all seasoned beachcombers possess, searching for gemstones crafted jointly by man and nature.

Many of these 'gemstones' were once bottles filled with milk and hair tonic, windowpanes of vintage cars and ornately crafted glassware used to entertain in beachfront villas or more modest homes further inland. After decades of tossing and turning in the frothy surf the humble shards are transformed into little frosted nuggets of translucent beauty, in shades of lavender, teal and aquamarine. Actually you can find sea glass in many other colors, but those are my personal favorites.

Shannon Maureen Russell takes these treasured finds and crafts exquisite jewelry from them, such as this pendant that I bought from her for my wife. If you want a sea glass pendant too, you can check out some of her offerings on Etsy.

Bugginess aside, we all had a blast! Aren't day trips the best?


  1. Such a nice post. Beauitful pictures and Shannon makes very pretty jewelry with the sea glass! Thanks for sharing!

  2. At least your fun and enjoyment was plentiful too. ;-)


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