Friday, July 24, 2009


Japanese fishermen used to use floats made from glass (check out this collector's stash), which still wash up on the shores of the Pacific. In her book Tide, Feather, Snow, my erstwhile birding pal Miranda Weiss notes that she found a beautiful blue one in Alaska. I'm jealous. There are probably some in that great island of plastic in the north Pacific, feeling out of place. Glass would seem like a strange thing to make a float out of, but you have to remember that glass is actually pretty strong and durable, especially older glass. Contemporary glass has been light-weighted, made flimsier because it’s cheaper to do so. O tempora o mores!Now, most American floats are made out of some kind of styrofoamy stuff, and over the years my father amassed this wall of them from the beaches of the Far Away Island. They look good in groups.
Occasionally, metal ones would turn up. I brought this one back from my last trip. It’s German (is that why it reminds me of an unterseeminen?). Heavy, but of course it’s full of air, and so would have bob-bob-bobbed along the waves.

Eventually, all that floats will come ashore

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