by Carole Ann Lake
When the morning sunlight shines through the jars of various colors of glass lined up on my windowsill, it brings me great joy. I am a person that loves color. I’m not really a monochrome kind of person, but there are a few exceptions. All the various shades of green and aqua, peach and lavender start my day out on a happy note. Sometimes, I see a treasured piece and I remember the day, the place and the excitement of finding such a jewel.
However, I think most glassing people are “beachcombers” at heart. Anything Mother Nature washes up on the shore is fair game, and along with the glass, seekers have an eye opened for fishing lures, rocks, coins and lucky stones. I once found a small geode and an amethyst crystal during my hunts, and I was not about to throw them back because they were not glass. While I am there mainly for the glass, I always have an eye opened for “lucky stones" as well.
When glassing, we train our eyes to zero in on that frosty, translucence; the charm of seaglass. I think we get better at it as we go. Our brain learns to dismiss pieces of shell, stone and bits of colored plastic. Along with the glass, I have learned to hunt for the smooth, white ivory of “lucky stones,” which has a totally different look than glass. I am sure most fresh water seekers have a small jar reserved for lucky stones, or have made a pendent with these treasures along with a favorite piece of beachglass.
A lucky stone is actually not a stone at all. It is a part of the inner ear of a fresh water fish called a sheepshead. The bone, called an otolith (Greek for ear-stone), is about dime sized and looks like polished ivory; quite different from seashells, which have a rainbow iridescence. Each white stone has an L for luck, or a J for Joy. In times past, they were used as protective amulets. If a person is not inclined to carry one in their pocket for luck or protection, they still make a lovely pendent or set of earrings. The bone with the J comes from the right side of the fish, and the bone with the L comes from the left side. Lucky stones can be found pretty much across the USA; California, Utah, the Appalachians and certainly any state bordering the Great Lakes.
Am I superstitious? I find these stones to have very magical properties. As with my seaglass, each stone brings me great Joy, and I instantly feel the Luck when I am so fortunate as to find one of the smooth, polished stones while hunting for an elusive color of beachglass.
Did You Know...?
Sheepshead fish are commonly referred to as Convict Fish because of the distinct black and white stripes on their bodies.
Sheepshead fish have human-like teeth, which helps it crunch into their regular diets of clams, oysters and other bivalves. Photo courtesy Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.
Sheepshead Bay is the water which separates Brooklyn, NY with the Coney Island area. It is part of the town of Sheepshead Bay (pictured above in 1905; photo courtesy George Eastman House Collection), apparently named for the amount of Sheepshead fish in the water of the bay.