Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Gritty menacing source of pleasure

There’s a lot not to like about sand. It makes your teeth feel gritty and your eyes smart. It settles in your sneakers and grinds away at your heels and toes.

Negatives aside, I love sand.

It comes in various colors, consistencies and sizes, depending on the rock sources and conditions where it’s found.

In Hawaii, sand formed from volcanic rocks is black. In other places, such as the Bahamas and Bermuda, it’s pink. You’ll find white sands in New Mexico.

In South Dakota and Nebraska, sand is a light earthy color.
For many, sand is a toy that inherently transforms beaches into an artist’s pallet and playgrounds to a construction zone.

Remember spending hours digging, building, creating, sculpting and shaping?

The other day, as I emptied a bag of sand into our grandchildren’s sandbox, childhood memories came flooding back to me, like giant waves, one after another, curling in from ocean depths…

…It’s Friday afternoon, I am at home on my lunch break. My three Dachshunds are romping around the yard, basking in the warmth of May’s bright, cheery disposition, while I open the plastic-coated bag and pour out the coarse damp sand.

That little pile easily yields to my compulsiveness as I carefully and systematically smooth it all the way to the corners of the sandbox, raking it into a flat plain.

For a moment, I allow myself to dream during this brief respite – this island oasis of yet another work day.

What will I make in the sand today? A castle? A fort? A highway? A lake? A statue?

I could bury my feet in it, trying hard to wiggle my aging entombed toes? Or will someone bury me, submerging my entire body, save my head?

Yes, there I will lie, deep in the cool underground, as my cohort scoops, piles and pats me into a sandy mound. My eyelids fail to bat away sand particles; my lips, now tightly squeezed shut, unsuccessfully hold back grit.

I feel the weight of damp sand draped over my legs, tucked under my arms, around my waist and between my fingers.

Squinting in the mid-day sun, I hear the sullen coo of mourning doves. A lingering glee comes over me, and I heed to the distant call of work.

2011 © Copyright Paula Damon. A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Bosco Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her writing has won first-place in competitions of the National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women. In the 2009 and 2010 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contest, her columns took five first-place awards. To contact Paula, email boscodamonpaula@gmail, follow her blog at and find her on FaceBook.

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