Tag Archive: sand


a study in leaves and sand

warning, purists: the next two were staged (you’d never guess) and the three after that were mostly black-and-white-ified in photoshop… but i still like them.

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this weekend we celebrated our one-year anniversary.  we still had an outstanding wedding present (outstanding indeed), a mystery weekend away, and decided to cash it in for a getaway in celebration of the past twelve months.  (actually a week early, but who’s counting?  … er, obviously, we are.)
our destination turned out to be a lovely bach on orua bay, at the northern tip of the awhitu peninsula.  the bach was only accessible for two hours at low tide (by driving along the beach), so once we arrived on friday afternoon, we were in for the weekend.  and it was blissful.  we only saw other people from a distance, strolling on the beach.  the manic rain-and-shine weather was perfect for reading, watching movies, beachwalking, and cuddling up on the old couch on the porch, sheltered by an overhanging roof and about 20m from the water’s edge (depending on tide).  tuis sang all day and kingfishers perched on the power lines, watching for their dinner in the waves lapping below.  herons strutted and seagulls dropped unlucky seastars and shellfish on the rocks.
we discovered the long-beached hulk of a small sailboat, nearly snarled in the roots of an overhanging pohutukawa tree; under the roots was a cave fully tall enough to stand up in.  we watched the sunrise on saturday morning, then went back to sleep until 11.  we followed the decadent menu our friends had planned and provided for us, prowled the exposed seagrass beds and pools at low tide, napped, and lounged around in companionable sloth.
do we really have to wait one more whole year for the next one?

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golden sands

last post about australia for now, i swear.  i just want to wrap it up with a few shots from the coast, since we went for a couple of good walks on the beaches.  we all know i have a thing for sand, so it seems only fitting.  plus this was the kind of squeaky sand that sounds like corduroy rubbing against itself when you walk through it.  i'm sure no one i was with got at all tired of me scuffing my feet.

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the taste of sand

when i was little, i used to eat sand, and many other yummy, crunchy, outdoor mineral-based things.  (and it hasn't done me any lasting damage at all, twitch twitch).  i thought i was over the habit, having had no sand-cravings whatsoever in the intervening 20-odd years, and even joked about it a couple days ago with some friends.  little did i know.

yesterday some friends and i went to check out a horse trekking place about an hour south of auckland.  we were booked in for a three-hour ride, and were joined by a fourth rider plus the guide.  the first stages of the ride took us down through beautiful farmland and valleys to the beach, on the west coast of the manukau harbor's south head.  the cliffs were misty and green, and the sea was pounding blue and brown, making for a spectacular landscape.  ours were the only hoofprints on the beach.  the horses knew as soon as we got to the sand that the best part of the ride was coming up, so although we kept them at a walk partway up the beach and back, they were dancing at the bits and raring for a run.

my horse, a dun mare named kahlua,  turned out to be a speed demon.  as soon as i gave her her head, we were off up the beach like a shot, although to my surprise she preferred to run up in the driftwood line, and nearly unseated me jumping a log.  i guided her back down to the water's edge, where the real excitement started. we had a fantastic gallop for a few hundred meters, until kahlua aimed to overtake the horse in front of us, but instead of passing politely, headed right up her tail.  i guided her off to the left, but she immediately shied at a rock, this time tossing me out of the saddle for real.  i slid down her right side (lightly clunking my head on the way down, probably against saddle or hoof) and into the deep black sand… with my right foot still stuck in the stirrup.

well, if kahlua was spooked by a stationary rock, she really didn't know what to do with a flailing body trailing off her right side.  so she kept running.  i was dragged for probably a few dozen meters, in which time i flipped myself over from back to stomach a few times to try to free myself and to see if any other rocks were approaching that i might get dragged over.  in the end i opted for stomach – fewer pounding hooves in front of my face, and i probably didn't want to know about oncoming rocks anyway.  and did i mention eating sand?  yeah, lots of that. 

in seconds, or minutes, or years, i came free and came to rest on my side.  at this point i knew i was fine – not dead and pretty sure nothing was broken, so the next few minutes were probably the worst for the onlookers, as i lay in the sand unmoving.  shortly i was able to take stock of my limbs and found that although my left leg, which had been flapping around under the horse, was very sore, nothing else seemed painful, including the foot and knee that had been snagged in the stirrup.  i was too dizzy to sit or stand for a while, but was otherwise completely fine, to my own and everyone else's amazement.  i did catch a ride back up the hill in a truck instead of on horseback, but other than the developing bruises on my leg nothing seemed amiss.  i spent the rest of the day with a light headache, icing and elevating my leg, and sleeping, and today can confirm that i actually i did get off with only bruises.  they even cover the normal day-after discomfort of sore infrequently used muscles. 

the most lasting effect, in fact, seems to be the sand, which i expect will gradually dislodge itself from my ears and eyebrows over the course of some months.  maybe i'll even be sandless again by the time i next go riding.  :)

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a cheeky fable

once upon a time, there lived a lonely sand spirit.

a cheeky fable

he watched over a giant black sand dune, surrounded by trees on three sides and a small stream that slowly filled a nearby valley, creating a lake.  the sand dune was too far inland for the sand spirit to visit the ocean, or for other sand spirits to visit, so he entertained himself by swimming in his lake and scaring the eels who lived there, and by rolling down the steep sides of the sand dune, and by making strange footprints and beautiful wave patterns in the sand.

a cheeky fable
a cheeky fable
a cheeky fable
a cheeky fable

a cheeky fablemost of the time, the spirit looked like a small, stout man made of living, shifting sand, but he could also change his shape.  sometimes he would sneak snake-like through the toetoe and rattle the stems, or send clouds of sand hissing through the tassels.  sometimes he would spin himself into a whirlwind and dance over the top of the dune as a giant column, his million grains of sand sparkling in the sunlight.a cheeky fableone day, he made a giant broom of toetoe tassels and began to sweep the whole dune completely smooth.  he hummed happily to himself as he worked, erasing the footprints that crossed the sand.  just as he was nearing the water’s edge, he noticed an unusual set of footprints. someone large, with only two toes on each foot, and very long legs, had walked along the water just recently. the sand spirit followed the tracks up to and into a dense thicket of toetoe, where he bumped into a large, knobbly knee.  squinting upward, he saw feathery grey plumage blending with the toetoe tassels, then a long, slender, elegant neck… and a large eye, staring right at him.  the eye was a deep chestnut brown, framed with long dark lashes, and the sand spirit thought it was the most beautiful eye he had ever seen.  he bowed.

the ostrich had never seen a sand demon before.  she had lived on a farm nearby for many years, but had grown tired of the green fields and set out to follow the stream that ran through them, wherever it would take her.  she was fascinated with the small, sparkling spirit that now stood near her knees, and she bent her head down to see him better.

hardly daring to breathe, the sand spirit picked up a soft toetoe tassel and tickled the great bird under the chin.  she half-closed her long lashes and crooned, deep in her throat.

from that moment, the sand spirit and the ostrich were inseparable. he showed her how to catch small fish in the lake, and how to slide down the great sand dune.  when he whirled as a column of sand, she pirouetted gleefully beside him.  sometimes she would let him ride on her back, racing along the peak of the dune.

he built her a vast, soft nest of toetoe tassels, and in it, she laid a large, sand-colored egg.  after months of sleeping under warm ostrich feathers and carefully arranged blankets of sun-soaked sand, the egg hatched, under the wondering eyes of its unlikely parents.  the child that emerged was even more unlikely – the squat, round body of the sand-spirit, reproduced in miniature, atop long spindly legs, with great brown eyes and long lashes.  in place of the sand spirit’s stubby arms, there were short, fluffy wings.  it cheeped shyly, and sneezed out a small cloud of sand.  its parents gazed in wonder.  the sand spirit spun for joy, while the ostrich nudged the baby gently.  it whistled softly and fell asleep.

as the fledgling grew, its parents tried to teach it to play and fish, but its odd little body couldn’t run without falling over, couldn’t roll without tangling its legs, couldn’t fish without a beak or hands.  the sand spirit and the ostrich watched with great concern as the child tried and tried to be like them, never quite succeeding.  when it grew tired and cried, they carried it back to the nest, where the ostrich crooned and the sand spirit made sand-patterns.   exhausted, the child fell into a deep sleep and dreamed its first dream.  a giant eel rose from the lake and told the child sternly it must choose to be like either its mother or its father, and when the moon rose, it must wish for one form or the other, with all its heart.

in the morning, the ostrich and the sand demon went to the lake as usual.  the fledgling peeped over the edge of the nest, watching its mother’s graceful neck and quick beak catching the silver fish, and its father’s clever fingers sieving along the lake bottom for crayfish.  as the sun climbed in the sky, he saw the ostrich leap and dance over the sand on long legs, while the sand demon gathered a small whirlwind and carved spirals in the sand dune.  as evening fell, the child’s heart grew heavy with choosing.  the night breeze sighed through the toetoe tassels, soft like his mother’s feathers; the stars came out in the sky, twinkling like his father’s sand grains.  he dreamed again.  the eel asked if he had chosen.  the child replied sadly that both his parents were kind and good.  could he  keep a part of each?  the eel smiled mysteriously and slid back into the water, whispering that the moon awaited his wish.

the child awoke as the first silver sliver crept above the horizon. gazing at his mother’s closed eyelashes and the sand wraiths dancing across his sleeping father, the child thought of the beautiful sand-waves the sand spirit made, and looked to the moon with brimming eyes.  the moon seemed to wink, slowly, and the child fell into a dreamless sleep.

a cheeky fable

when he awoke and stretched, he saw arms and fingers in place of his fuzzy wings, and short sandy legs with small, five-toed feet.  resigned to the smaller form of the sand spirit, he climbed from the nest and tried a small whirlwind.  he walked a few paces with his new feet, then smoothed out his tracks with his new fingers.  as he did so, he also felt the ghosts of his fuzzy wings pass over the sand.  walking, then running, he felt his short legs lengthen and carry him
faster and faster.  a rainbow appeared above the lake, and he danced down to the water’s edge, eager to try fishing.  as he splashed in the shallows, stretching his magical legs longer and shorter, a large shadow swam toward shore, unnoticed until at last a pair of somber eel-eyes appeared at the surface.  the child shrieked in fright and jumped straight out of the water, at once returning to his small sand-spirit body…

a cheeky fable
with the instincts of an ostrich.