Japanese Glass Floats–The Emerald of the Sea

photo courtesy of: Jo Jibber Jabber

Once upon a time these beautiful glass balls were used in commercial fishing across the globe. Referred to as “Japanese glass floats” (although, the origins stretch far and wide) these enchanting blue spheres were lost at sea–escaped from the twine fishing nets that held them so long ago, left to float aimlessly across the wild waves, through coral beds and tangled in seaweed, they bobbed and ebbed for upwards of twenty years before washing ashore. A little worse for the wear; their once glossy glass finished aged with churned sand and violent saltwater, they are truly the prize for a beachcomber who can search her whole life and never find one.

In THE MILESTONE TAPES, I’ve left an Easter egg to pay homage to these beauties.  So, let me explain…

Glass floats comes in all shapes and sizes.  Collectors cherish the odd and unique for their character, while I could personally care less.  I get caught up in the magic of all–each one, any size, any condition.  Glass, surviving the wilds of the sea, washed ashore despite the perils of open water.   To me, they beat the odds of what they up against.

My first glass float (and it was actually a pair) came from a small antique mall in Port Orchard Washington.  We on our way to Port Angeles and stopped to stretch our legs and do a bit of browsing.  There they were, hanging on a peg-board, side by side.  I was almost immediately in love.  I gently lifted them from their hooks and took them to counter.  The owner of booth was actually working the store that day.  She rolled them around in her hands, looking at me from over the rims of her glasses and asked if I knew what “these were”.  Of course, being a midwestern girl through and through, I did not.  She smiled and told me only that they floated over from Japan.  I was enchanted, of course, but I still didn’t understand.

Later in our trip, under a gloomy sky and spattering rain drops on First Beach we met an old man with a dog.  I had just almost been drug out to sea chasing a rock in the deceiving “low tide” of the Pacific Ocean when he caught up to us.  He was looking for glass floats.  He elaborated on what the sales woman had said–saying he’d been looking his whole life and found only two.  It was then that I knew these beautiful balls were special.  A treasure of sorts, the emerald of the sea.  Found on the rocky shore lines and haunted with a passion that kept some coming out, day after day, armed with nothing more than hope and wonder.

When I was writing, I wanted there to be one moment between mother and daughter than brimmed more than the others.  A moment that…years later…Mia could look back on and have something from.  Since my book is set in the Olympic Peninsula, I thought a glass float would be perfect.  I, as the author, understood the meaning behind it–the treasure a float is and the importance of its journey, it played perfect both of the scene and metaphorically speaking as well–but, I also knew, my readers may not.  My point of this posting is to let you all in.  So that if someday you pick up a copy of THE MILESTONE TAPES and humor me with read…you’ll understand.

 

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