experiences of sand

A couple of weeks before my birthday, which is today, Mrs. C proposed a trip to the North Coast for a walk on the beach, which we planned to do yesterday. A week ago we noticed that rain was on the forecast all the way to the coast, so we thought we might end up taking a sedentary drive, and eat crab on the way.

We met at her house, where across the road I found sourgrass – Oxalis pes-caprae – in abundance. I didn’t know until I looked up the botanical name just now that it is considered a noxious weed around here. Its bright color drenched with rain made it reflect all the midday light.


Mrs. C has peach blossoms by her deck. I’m glad she is the kind of friend who doesn’t mind slowing down while I take pictures of everything. Well, not quite everything.

You can see from these photos how the sky was white or gray with clouds. We had our umbrellas with us when we set out.

After we enjoyed our little lunch, sitting in her truck on a bluff overlooking the ocean, we walked down to Schoolhouse Beach, not even bringing our umbrellas, because there was no sign of rain. I know God held the rain off because He wanted me to have a birthday walk on the sand. 🙂


And not just a walk, but a look at the sand. We sat on rocks and sifted through the sand that on this particular beach is very gravelly. No grain of sand was too small to hold separately in our fingers. Here is a close-up:

Remember when last month I saw the sand display in Pacific Grove? Soon afterward I did buy some small bottles in hopes of filling them with sand from my explorations. I managed to have two with me, and I collected the first sample at this beach. It even contained a piece of beach glass.

You might notice in that photo above the blue sky in the background. For much of the afternoon we were under a clear and blue ceiling, though we could see fog banks and clouds moving in on three sides of us.

Mrs. C didn’t bring a camera or a bottle, but she made her own collection of some of the larger pebbles.

This beach is dangerous for swimming, as are many on California’s North Coast. It has a sharp drop-off that I think is somehow connected to the frequency of “sleeper” or rogue waves, plus undercurrents that are hard to escape from.  Just last month a woman was swept off a rock here and drowned.

After a while we drove five minutes south to Salmon Creek Beach where the sand was more like sand. The fog and clouds had covered the sun, and the sea gulls were lined up facing the wind. Those birds must have known that we had no food, because they ignored us on both beaches.

We walked even more along here, after I scooped up “plain” sand into my second bottle. Iceplant and sourgrass and other flowers I don’t know are starting to bloom. This one I haven’t been able to identify so far:

It was growing on the edges of a lagoon that has been receding. Salmon  Creek flows through the lagoon on its way to the sea, making always-new carvings through the sand. This was our last view as we reluctantly made our way up the cliff and left the wide views behind us.

It had been a lovely gift of a day. Within a minute of my leaving Mrs.  C’s house, thundershowers began, and I drove through ten or fifteen of them before I got home.


I need to put a couple of empty bottles in my bags right now while I’m thinking of it, and start planning my next adventure so as to include sand. 🙂


24 thoughts on “experiences of sand

  1. Happy Birthday, Gretchen! What a lovely day and beautiful photos! Those pebbles from Schoolhouse Beach are really beautiful. I love how each beach has its own unique character and sand. Here on the other side of the country, I went to the beach this week, too! I’m going to try to post some photos from my outing this weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What beautiful sand, especially the multicolored selection – perfect for putting in glass bottles. I once was in the Imperial Valley along the canals there – lots of sand there too, and in the sand I found the tiniest seashells I’ve ever seen, smaller than those beautiful grains in your hand. Out in the middle of the desert. Sand may look rather uninteresting at first glance, but it is certainly full of surprises.

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    1. Sara, because of your report about this surprise inland sand I put three bottles in my bag yesterday, because I realized that my collection could swell pretty quickly if I keep my eyes open!


  3. Belated Happy Birthday dear Gretchen. It looks like you had a wonderful day and I love all of those colorful pebbles from the first beach. WOW!

    Enjoy the rest of your week birthday girl!

    Love & hugs ~ FlowerLady

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  4. Happy Birthday, a day late….What a lovely day! I really like the sand you collected and am amazed by the green bits in it. So beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kristi, what I find remarkable is the way the bits of green glass are the same size as stone and shell pieces – and almost all in smooth roundish shapes. On other beaches I have found more variation in size and form. I know there are reasons for the ways sand gets sifted and sorted, no doubt more complicated than I want to study… but it does all make me very curious!


  5. That’s exactly the kind of day I would plan for my birthday! The peach blossoms are such a dark pink. We bought a peach tree last summer and it’s getting buds now. I am looking forward to watching it grow. Your pebbles are so pretty.

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  6. Happy Birthday dear Gretchen! What a fun way to celebrate — walking beaches. Your sand samples are wonderful. I particularly like those pebbles. So vibrantly colorful. I think it’s neat that you take your little vials with you. You might even find other things that might need collecting when you’re out and about.

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  7. What a treat, to find some beach glass among the pebbles. All are beautiful, but the glass is special — as was your day. Happy birthday to you, and every good wish for the coming year. It will be fun to see what you put into those other bottles as your year progresses.

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  8. A belated happy birthday! Sounds like you had a great day with your friend. Those pretty rocks are quite amazing and I know I wouldn’t be able to resist bringing home many of them.

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  9. Such a gorgeous way to celebrate your birthday (and many happy returns of the day, as Pooh Bear would say)! I am so enriched by your photographs, the beauty of His world, and, like you, I love to collect little items from the journey in bottles or origami boxes which I have folded. I miss the beach. I miss water. I miss sunshine. I would have liked to share them with you. God bless your new year. xo

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  10. Happy belated birthday, GretchenJoanna! I send late but heartfelt wishes for another year of wonder and blessings! It looks like you had a beautiful day to mark the beginning of another year of observing and sharing lovely things!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. So much in this post – but as always, at least it feels to me – you’re able to write about the experience with a kind of patience that I find so hard to summon. Like your friend who waits while you snap pictures, you seem so calm and able to take it all in. I love that you are collecting sand in these tiny jars. Happy Birthday. (Oh yes and as I read this a song came on called “Last Day at the Beach” – so perfect.)

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