We step on it, kick it, sweep it, and wipe it from our feet… sand. Have you ever stopped to appreciate it? Consider this, you are walking on precious gems, some of which are millions of years in the making! I once lived on the shores of Long Island Sound, and the beach there had purple sand. Some of the local children believed that the beach sand was “dragon dust.” The story goes that the dragon would emerge from the sea to sleep on the beach at night. When he rose before dawn, he would shake the dust from his scales and silently slip back into the sea leaving behind a purple trail.
In reality, it was the constant pounding of surf that dislodged tiny pieces of the pink granite from the seawall, creating lovely purple swaths of sand along the shore. The purple sand consisted of gemstones that gave it that brilliant color. Purple amethyst, rosy quartz, magnetite, garnets, and rubies were washed daily by the surf and warmed by the sun. How often do we take these small things for granted? How often do the treasures around us go unnoticed…in nature, in ourselves, and in others? When you walk on the sandy ground, you are treading on a jewel-studded carpet of earth. The Universe, created to be good, lines your path with treasure.
Which way of looking at this story of sand is the right way? Does the imagination of a storyteller have less validity than the story elucidated by the scientist? Or can we hold both perspectives as being valuable in their own right? Dragon dust or geological evolution, it is the appreciation for the meaning of the stories and the creative work of their storytellers that makes both views precious.
I first posted this on Weebly 5/9/16. Since then I have collected some more sand from different areas, which I will write about soon. For more writing from the Connecticut shoreline check out Mary O’Connor’s website and her blog on WordPress.
Bottom photo of a ground bee nest by John Braverman, S.J. Assistant Professor at Saint Joseph’s University, PA. Ground bees are beneficial pollinators who sculpt sand into a home for themselves. This photograph was taken at Beaver Swamp Wildlife Management Area, NJ.
Photo above is of magnified (20x) purple beach sand is from Knollwood Beach in Old Saybrook, CT by M.G. Iannucci.