Poop on the Dunes
As an adult, I instinctively make connections to previous knowledge when I am introduced to something new. This process somewhat diminishes the impact of its novelty, but it allows me to store the data correctly in the proper file drawer for subsequent retrieval. You see, at this stage in my life there is a lot of “stuff” rolling around in my head like steel orbs in a pinball machine, constantly being launched by a plastic flipper. So when I cleverly join the two pieces of knowledge together, I can put the combination in a safe place and I increase my chances to score some points later on when I need it. Best of all, then I know what I see.
Young children on the other hand are more succinct in the reporting of their discoveries and just accept them for what they are. Their refreshing candor and delight in the world around them is indescribable. It would be nice if we all could spend at least a few hours with some youngsters and jump into their little heads and learn from their innocence.
I was lucky to spend the majority of my July days this summer with my two young grandchildren at the beach. It gave me quite a bit of time to see the world through their lenses and I loved every moment.
Each day the beach looked different. The height of the waves changed, the undertow shifted and daily, a variety of sea life came ashore. One day the light gray sand contained wide swirls of dark bluish-black particles. I was standing with my six year-old grandson at the shoreline trying to figure out what was currently blending in with yesterday’s sand.
“Look Mimi,” Max observed, “The sand got bruised by the waves,” he laughed as he cheerfully headed to the water’s edge.
Wow! The shiny wet surface did look like a smattering of natural hematomas on the hide of a large animal. Hmm—m-m- why didn’t I see that?
On another afternoon we went to the beach after a particularly stormy morning. The sea had been churning all night, resulting in the most sea foam that I have ever seen which was deposited on the shoreline, just beyond the breaking waves. Once again I was thinking about the scientific aspect of the event and the agitated seawater when my darling Max giggled, “It looks like a giant washing machine!” He ran ahead kicking the foam while I thought, “Darn, he got me again!” The yellow tinged rolls of bubbles kept pushing up further on the sand until they covered the entire damp surface. Much like the I Love Lucy episode when Lucy put too much detergent into her machine, the bubbles just kept flowing.
Kids just tell it like they see it and freely throw out their observations. They are not trying to impress one another with their knowledge or keen observations like adults do. They are just reporting a visual.
“Poop on the dune!” Max alerted us one day as we walked through the passage way from the street to the beach. Sure enough glistening on top of one of the side banks was a perfect canine specimen. It reminded me of one of my favorite scenes in Caddyshack when Bill Murray is called upon to drain the pool after a suspicious “floater” was spotted. Previously ahead of us, numerous adults had passed and I did not hear one warning of the upcoming danger until Max made his shout-out. Each day as we passed the tiny brown log, he let us know that it was still there with his familiar battle cry, “Poop on the dunes!” Each day I laughed all the way through the soft sand.
Charlotte, my four year-old granddaughter seemed to be more interested with my physical appearance when we were together. Maybe that is a girl thing. She and I “put on our lips” every morning before we went out of the rented summer house and before that she liked to pull out the dental floss from its plastic holder so that I could get stuff out of my teeth. Whenever she sat next to me, her tiny little fingers would run along my aging skin like a dermatologist doing a preliminary exam. She always stopped when she felt an imperfection and promptly asked, “What’s that?”
One day she discovered a floppy skin tag at the base of my neck.
“What’s that?’ she of course inquired while casually twirling it around between her forefinger and thumb.
I decided to simply give her the medical term and not go into any details or tell her that this is what happens to your skin at age 61.
After listening to my answer she said, “Oh, it looks like a little raisin.” (which it did) Then she went on to pull on the loose epidermis on my elbow which has lost most of its elasticity and announced, “Look, it is standing up”.
“Yes it is,” I reluctantly acknowledged and wished that my flesh did not look like the wrinkled knees of a mature elephant. I glanced down at her arms and her smooth skin which were just perfect. The thought of her inevitable creases was depressing.
“Just the facts, Ma’am” Sergeant Joe Friday reminded the witnesses on the popular television series Dragnet.
How refreshing it would be if we could all take that advice! Imagine if our reporters and politicians could dial back and speak in this simple style of brief observation. We could cut through the rhetoric, the long-winded opinions, and hours of speculation. Talking heads would not fill the programming slots at night and on Sunday mornings because once the news moment had been announced, there would be nothing else to say. Jobs could be diverted to new medical advances and other humanitarian efforts. Maybe this tactic could even reduce everyone’s stress level. After all, once we knew that there was “poop on the dunes”, we could just walk around it!
Let’s raise a glass to simplicity in its purest form as we bid farewell to summer and those wonderful beach memories!