I grew up on Tybee Island, Georgia, where we spent nearly every summer weekend at the beach, on sand. I love sand under my bare feet, especially underwater. I love how sand is golden in the shallows of southern east coast beaches. It sparkles in morning and evening sunlight, and it’s firm under my feet but soft between my toes.
At low tide, when the Atlantic is calm and flat, you can shuffle your feet in the sand off the beach to feel for the hard disks of sand dollars. I used to love finding sand dollars, to lift them above the green water and watch their hundreds of bristle legs glisten in the sunlight.
Later we moved to Florida’s Gulf coast, where the sand is white and fine. The sand there contains limestone and bleached seashells in addition to the quartz grains that dominates both Gulf and East coast sand — quartz from the Appalachian mountains we now live in.
This is my favorite thing about sand: its origins. I remember learning about sand in elementary school, or maybe in earth science in 8th grade — about how the sand on our beaches at Tybee Island used to be stone at the top of Appalachian mountains. How it is old. So old thtat it was once solid rock, but eroded into smaller stones, then got pummeled into smaller and smaller bits as it worked its way down rivers, until eventually it was ground to the tan quartz sand of our beaches. When you hold a handful in the light, you can see sparkling bits of mica, and the orange tint of iron in the glittering quartz.
I’ve heard the Appalachians mocked by folks in western states. They laugh, “Those are hills, not mountains.” The sight of them may not stagger, but the the Appalachians are mountains. They are old mountains. So old they’ve rounded off in their age. So old they’ve worn down. So old that they are subtle, not imposing; they are soft not jagged. The are old enough that they span solid earth to fine grains of sand, and have spread, from mountaintop to coastal plain.
Photo credit: Sand Structures by fdecomite
For the month of November, I will be participating in NaBloPoMo and plan to publish every day of the month. Usually, I will publish a 10-minute free write, initiated by a prompt from my prompt box. Minimal editing. No story. Just thoughts spilling onto the page. Follow along with the tag #NovemberDaily.