Dr. Beachcomb says "Get out and play!"
S. Deacon Ritterbush aka Dr. Beachcomb
An interview with S. Deacon Ritterbush, Ph.D., the consummate beachcomber and eco-educator
Her name is Dr. Deacon Ritterbush, author of A Beachcomber's Odyssey Vol. I: Treasures from a Collected Past, and her mission is to introduce people to the fascinating, healthful, healing and affordable world of beachcombing.
She would like to see beachcombing at the forefront of the growing "health-family-kids back-to-nature" movement by introducing this pastime through books, seminars, conferences, the Internet and other media.
"My belief is that beachcombing offers people ready-made opportunities to positively transform their lives at little or no financial cost," she says.
Story continues below...
Interested in Dr. Beachcomb's book?
Click A Beachcomber's Odyssey
The Journal: How long have you been beachcombing?
Ritterbush: As long as I can remember, beginning on Chesapeake Bay and the Jersey Shore.
The Journal: How did you get started beachcombing?
Ritterbush: Beachcombing has never not been a part of my life though it was less "purposeful" when I was younger in the sense that there are specific beach treasures I seek out nowadays... and I also beachcomb as a way to achieve better mental and physical health fresh air, exercise, achieving some "psychic" distance from worry or stress.
The Journal: What are some of your favorite beaches?
Ritterbush: The ones right outside my front door on Chesapeake Bay for quartz. Haena, Kaua'i (Hawaii) for coral hearts. Orient Point, New York for quartz "eggs." Pocomo Beach on Nantucket for scallops and jingle shells. Calvert Cliffs for fossils. Delaware beaches for pottery shards and beach glass. Mid-Maine beaches for stones and Ocracoke Island for "shell coins." Almost any beach in Fiji or Tonga.
The Journal: What are some of your favorite finds when you beachcomb?
Ritterbush: Like most beachcombers, I love sea glass but I especially appreciate marbles, art glass, and glass with embossed designs or letters that enable me to trace their origin. Pottery, (esp. 16th-19th century shards), glass bottles, American Indian artifacts, fishing floats, and certain fossil shells are my favorites though my most treasured beach find is a huge, smooth orb of honey amber quartz that I carry with me all the time.
"Beachcombing offers people ready-made opportunities to positively transform their lives..."
The Journal: Will you share a favorite beachcombing story?
Ritterbush: I write books sharing my beachcomb stories! (Vol. II is due out sometime next year.)
The Journal: How has beachcombing positively impacted your life?
Ritterbush: Well, it has always been "my happy thing to do." Actually, beachcombing is something I cannot NOT do, if you get the gist... If there is a beach, I am exploring it. I believe this is because the beach is my "N-Spot" that place in Mother Nature that fills me with a sense of well-being and connects me to a better energy out there in the world. A meditative hour wandering a shoreline replaces all the possible negatives in my life with joy and contentment, good health and a wonderful sense of well-being and happiness with my lot in life.
The Journal: What do you hope to achieve by raising the public awareness to beachcombing?
Ritterbush: What I am intent on promoting is not necessarily beachcombing per say but good health, eco-care, resourcefulness, simplicity. I introduce people to these things via information on the beachcomb experience through books, magazine articles, lectures, workshops and conferences. I do all of these things because I believe that beachcombing is one avenue that leads people to fall in love with being outside again, which in turn encourages them to become better stewards of the world and of their own lives. How so? If such a simple pleasure like finding a piece of sea glass or a lovely shell can fill you with so much joy, it changes your perspective on what is really essential to your happiness and what is not. More importantly, by helping people re-awaken their magical, childlike sense of wonder and awe in the workings of nature again, they, in turn, become better stewards of their environment. How so? Because it's a natural response to protect what we love. Most consummate beachcombers collect trash while they comb shorelines for treasure not just because it is the right thing to do but also because it hurts them to see a place they love be so ill-treated.
The Journal: What are you currently doing these days?
Ritterbush: Lots of lectures and book tours from North Carolina to Delaware, Nantucket, Maine and on to the Mermaid Tears Sea Glass Festival in Prince Edward Island. Should be a fun summer. I'm trying to complete Volume II of a Beachcomber's Odyssey entitled Strands in the Sand and am also collecting stories from other beachcombers for my third book entitled Beach Hearts. On a personal note, my beautiful daughter is getting married this summer, which is keeping me busy.
The Journal: So, what's next?
Ritterbush: Along with the Pilgrimage Coordinator for National Cathedral, I am planning the "Gift from the Sea Spiritual Retreats" for the fall as well as Beach Arts classes and Sea Glass and Fossil Beachcombing Workshops. There is also the possibility of holding another Int'l. Beachcomb Conference before I relocate back to Hawai'i next year so PHEW! But I continue to meet so many fun, energetic and down-to-earth people via all these activities that I am truly having the time of my life. Talk about getting paid to do what you love. These past few years have been a dream come true tenfold.