Growing up, I was fortunate to have direct access to the Lake Erie shoreline. My relatives shared a house in Geneva on the Lake that my great-grandparents had purchased in the 1960s. The beach was a short walk from the back door, and I grew up with what was essentially a private environmental land lab. I could explore geology, astronomy, meteorology, zoology, engineering, and other sciences for days or weeks at a time. Of course, I didn’t know a lot of those words at first. It was mostly play, exploration, and asking questions.
When I was younger, much of the trash on the shoreline seemed like treasure trove. Broken glass turned into polished fragments. My cousins and I used sand dyed purple-black by iron-ore from freighters in imaginary potions. Aluminum cans and rusty iron could be scrapped for video arcade quarters. A sand-scarred vintage Boba Fett figure was an especially great find. The beach was the perfect place for a Sarlacc pit.