The Sands of my Childhood had a way of coloring my entire life.
Author Ann Wright
My earliest memories are of running through the sands of the orange groves that surrounded my grandparent’s house. How many hours did I plow through that soft sand held together by crabgrass, playing hide and seek with my little brother among the trees? I’m sure the birds and the locusts were singing their summer songs, but really I just remember the softness of the sand as my feet sunk in slightly, which was a real handicap when trying to evade my brother’s tag. Thank you Sand.
It was in the white sands of Dunedin Beach that I first learned to swim. By accident, really. I was collecting sand dollars, that I would sit in the sun and let bleach. I dug in the sand searching for them, and as I plodded forward in the surf with my feet floating behind me I discovered first buoyancy and then swimming. Lessons are best learned when they come naturally.
It was in the even whiter sands of Clearwater Beach that I had my first sailing experience. Stepping onto that sailboat and stepping off the sand that I took so for granted was my first experience in Faith. My second was when my Uncle let me jump off the sailboat in the harbor and I realized there were many feet of water below me before I could hope to touch that sand, but also that I couldn’t possibly hold my breath long enough to get to it. I was truly grateful to reach the sands of the shore again, as at the tender age of 6 years old, my own mortality had just first occurred to me.
It was a few years later that we moved from the White Sands of Western Florida to the Grey Sands of Charleston. I hated my new home at first. How could I love those dirty sands and murky waters of Carolina? But in time I learned that the sound of the water kissing the shore is the same, and I would then evolve into gratitude for the beach. Any beach.
I would go on to experience many of life’s firsts on those grey sands. Some by choice but one was not. But I was the lucky one as two young girls lost their lives to a predator on that same beach in those years. During the week of my wedding the gravesite of a platoon of colored Union soldiers was discovered on my beach. Headless, every one – as the bounty money for the heads of colored soldiers payed handsomely in those days. More than 100 years later they are famous now having been immortalized in Hollywood what our schools “forgot”. The tides ebb and flow with the secrets of that Sand.
Years later when my marriage moved me to Central Pennsylvania I thought that the fact that it had a river would be my saving grace. They said there was a “beach” on an island in the middle of that river. Hoping to keep that lifestyle alive for my kids, I sadly discovered the “sand” was nothing more than poured concrete, an inhospitable and unforgiving “wannabe” shore that could teach my kids nothing.
Every year when the snow fell my mind drifted from the snowbanks of my reality to the sandy streets of my grandparent’s neighborhood. If I looked at it just right and ignored the temperature, it almost felt and looked the same. What I wouldn’t give in those years for a little soft sand that would slow down my run in life.
Now in my late afternoon I’ve landed in Jacksonville and find myself exactly in the middle between the white sands of early childhood and the murky sands of adolescence. I am grateful, for not everyone lives to witness the shifting of the sands. I no longer question the storms of a sandy lifestyle but I do question why it’s a bad thing to be told to “Pound Sand”. I have returned to relish the beauty of the sounds and smells and colors that the sands of my new home invite.
Thank You Sand.