Sandra and I and our three dogs (still puppies: Buddy & Holly at 7 months and Soca at 4 months of age) had gone for a mid-afternoon swim. We take the dogs to this particular beach because it is mostly un-peopled. That allows both us and the dogs to enjoy the experience more without having to worry about intruding on other peoples’ enjoyment.
This day, when we showed up, there was a family already there and in the water. We parked well away from them. It is cool being able to park right on the beach instead of some parking lot. That means that you have easy access to the cooler of beer. (Regular readers of this column will know that I almost always sneak in a reference to my second-most-favorite beverage. Sometimes it is an obvious reference; sometimes it is obscure.) Beer, like bikinis and awesome sunsets, are, in my mind, as indelibly linked to the pleasure of going to the beach as is a swim in mother ocean.
Anyway, we all went into the sea for a swim. Then, the dogs got out to run around, roll in the sand and hunt for discarded morsels of beach picnics, crabs and whatever else their noses lead them to. Sandra and I stayed in to enjoy the cool (82 degree F) water after a hot day at the office.
Then I saw that the four or five year child from that previously mentioned family was getting out of the sea without parents. I raced, as much as you can race in water, out as well. Our dogs are not dangerous in most conditions; but a small child can be mowed over by three rambunctious, curious and happy puppies who want to play with almost everyone, especially anyone close to their own size.
I got there just in time to avert a collision. Then, the boy added a challenge. He took off his swimsuit and threw it away. The dogs went after it. I was forced to follow. Again, I averted a problem in the nick of time by grabbing the suit before the dogs could ruin it. But now Soca was back at the boy and had knocked him down and was licking his face. Buddy, Holly and I arrived back there at the same time and I had now lost control of the situation. All three dogs wanted to join in this game of tumble. I was busy attempting to get them away and they were running circles around me. It was all a big game as far as they were concerned.
I am sure you can see the scene in your mind. One frantic yelling adult, three frantic barking dogs and one child who was… hhmmm, not frantic at all. In fact, he was ignoring the rest of us all together, was sitting buck naked on the beach and was focused on the handful of sand he had somehow managed to obtain despite the commotion.
By now Sandra had shown up with leashes and we regained control. I looked around to see what the parents were doing. Did we have a problem? They were both still in the sea and they were laughing at me. Well, I’d rather be laughed at than yelled at any day. I turned my attention to the child. He was intent on the sand in his hand.
“Whatcha lookin at?” I asked.
“Stars shine,” he replied.
I looked closely. Sure enough, the black volcanic sand was full of tiny crystals that were shining bright in the late afternoon sun. It was just like a night sky. I sat for a while and pondered that small miracle, trying to imagine constellations in the sand in the boys hand.
Suddenly, he tossed his handful of stardust into the air, laughed, got up and ran back into the sea. I waded in to take the swimsuit to the parents.
“Sorry about the dogs,” I said.
“No problem. He’s used to them. We have two at home.” was Mom’s reply.
Sandra and I walked down to the end of the beach with the dogs and back again. Then we all went in for another swim. Then, it was time for a cold one. Thanks to our dogs, the back seat of our Suzuki is now full of stardust. It will be a two beer job to clean it out.
I’ll leave you with the famous first stanza of William Blake’s poem, Auguries of Innocence.
To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.