Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Sands of Time

We're getting hard frosts now. In the morning, the ground and my garden are icy white. When the sun finally makes it up above the tree tops, leaves fall in torrents as the heat hits those ice-cold branches and the trees lose their grip on the summer canopy.
"Time is like a handful of sand - the tighter you grasp it, the faster it runs through your fingers"

These days, there is not much space outside of the time I spend with my mother. So I have found when I do not hand over my writing to others, what I am compelled to write about becomes an extension of my conversations and reflections with Mom. The two of us are spending a lot of time looking back. That's where she's most comfortable. The farther back we go, the better her memory. Ask her about an event or person in her childhood and you'll get minute details. Ask her what she had for lunch the minute she finished the last morsel, and you'll get a shrug.

Mom grew up on the Atlantic Ocean just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Her summers were spent with family on Cape Cod. Her only move was to Michigan and the shores of a much smaller body of water but still huge in its own right, Lake Michigan. This is where Mom has spent the last 68 years of her life and where I grew up.

The other day we talked about spending so much of one's life on or near a beach. There are many wonderful and interesting things about beach life. Watching wildlife, digging clams, and flying kites have been some of our favorites. But in our conversation, Mom seemed to want to focus on sand. We agreed that our beach days will always be a part of us and will forever be most defined by sand. Oh, such a tiny thing for such a long life!

We've concluded that our hair, toes, belly buttons and many other unmentionable crevices will always contain at least a few grains of sand. A total cleaning is not possible. We'll both die with sand in some crack. Likewise, we'll forever have sand in our bed.

We are still astounded at how possessions can get lost for a long, long time as the sand shifts and inches forward and backward with the wind and the waves. And that often, with that same shifting, the treasures are unearthed and things long lost return. I remember that vividly with a stuffed toy cat that disappeared for a good three months, only to return with no more damage than need of a good washing.

We agreed that sleeping on the sand makes the best nap. Long after the day has cooled, that patch of sand is still quite warm having absorbed the sun all day. Warm sand, properly piled and molded, will allow for rest so deep you'll drool in your sleep and wake with sand plastered to the side of your face.

We sighed as we remembered the experience of standing at the water's edge and wiggling our feet in the sand. Better than any foot massage we've ever had, our feet emerged baby fresh and buffed.

I serve up this reflection about sand as an opportunity for you to remember the environment that forever defines you. What simple geography has played a big role in defining who you are today? Prairie grasses, a cool and quite pine forest, rocks, an orchard, a pasture? Search for that place in your own life journey. Your eternity is as simple as a grain of sand. I’d love to hear your reflections as you discover your own sands of time.

“To see a world in a grain of sand
And Heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of you hand
And eternity in an hour.”
Auguries of Innocence ~William Blake

“They dined on mince and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon.”
~Edward Lear