According to Wikipedia, sand is a naturally occurring granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles. There's sand on a beach, sand in a desert, sand in a box, and sand in an hourglass. Paper is made from it. Playgrounds use it for injury prevention. Golfers curse it whenever their balls end up trapped. Sand has been used in joining ceremonies at weddings, in bags to offset flooding disasters, and in those framed art things with the swirling liquid that sit on corporate desks and lull presidents into slumbers.
So sand might be naturally occurring, but I think granular material composed of finely divided such-and-such is a little understating, perhaps even insulting. Some sands take millions of years to perfect, representing efforts from wind and water to erode cliffs and mountains.
Of course, some sands are just artificially colored and flavored sugars, designed to hype the niece and nephew up before sending them home. So I hear. I would never do such a thing to my brother. Scouts' honor.
I was inspired to revisit Tracy and her brother Joshua. We last met them here and here, in that order.
I offer the following in response: Grunion Running
The springtime evening chill forced an exodus of people from the beach as temperatures plummeted to bathing-suit unfriendly levels. The ocean lapped at the sand, painting the firming coast dark with moisture. A celestial schooner, the full moon drifted in a tide of marine-layer clouds, trolling lazily for dreams.
Tracy braved the cold, armed with mittens and hot chocolate. She hated the beach, save for nights like these, off the bow of her aunt’s back porch, when she could ignore the gritty air and its salty taste for the sake of the family. A fishing license was tucked securely into her back pocket, along with her ID, just in case local law enforcement got nosey. She reached the conservative campfire, where her cousins were plotting the Great Roasted Marshmallow War.
“Tracy, you can be on my team!” Nikki tugged at her elbow.
“Keep me out of it. I’m Switzerland tonight.” She searched the darkness beyond the firelight for her brother. Soon, she spied his beach chair, already set up in a prime location. Her feet felt sluggish until she reached the spongy firmness of the tide-impacted sand.
Joshua glanced up at her approach, “Trace? You hate the ocean. Tide’s only getting higher you know.”
“Yes, true, but I can’t see anything back there with the fire going.” She forced her voice over the crushing roar of the waves.
“You’ve met the neighbors? Flag, this is my sister Tracy.”
“Flag?” she stretched out her hand as foamy water splashed around her hiking boots.
Flag kissed her mittens. “Name’s Flanagan Donnell Kilpatrick. So, yeah, Flag, please.”
“I’m sorry, I really don’t mean to laugh,” she gripped her hot chocolate again for warmth, envious of the shorts and flip-flop wearing boys.
“So when’s the show supposed to start?” Joshua sipped from his soda can. Tracy caught a whiff of bourbon. His beach drinks were often spiked.
Flag checked his watch. “Anytime now. So, what’s with the winter gear? You’re dressed for Alaska.”
“I freeze in ninety-degree weather,” she rolled her eyes. “And I hate the beach. I always end up with sand in places I forgot I have.”
It was his turn to laugh. “I love the beach, but it doesn’t love me back. Irish skin and all. Wait, here they come!”
The waves shone like silver and soon the sand around them was inundated with grunions. Tracy jumped back, squealing with delight, and inadvertently gripped Flag’s arm for balance. She let go hastily and drank from her mug to hide the blush she felt burning her cheeks.
“What are the fish doing?” Nikki’s eyes were large and innocent.
“Making friends,” Joshua grinned, shooting Tracy his I-saw-that look.