Posted by: Sand Squiggles -- Richard Modlin's Blog | May 29, 2010

Squiggles in the Sand — What are They? Do They have Meaning?

Squiggles in the Sand

A slight breeze bends the blade of sea oats over until its tip touches the sand.  Then the breeze abates somewhat allowing the leaf to flex.  In a moment the wind blows again, but harder and from a slightly different angle.  The tip moves and twists.  Simultaneously the wind’s dynamic influences another blade of the same plant and also the leaves of neighboring plants.  The breeze continues for several hours, waxing and waning, inscribing a windswept pattern of lines, curlicues, ripples, and fans. 

Are these Sand Squiggles a message written by Nature — or perhaps a semblance of human writing?

I continue along the path that borders this scene a few steps farther, reflecting on what I see.  More scribbled ciphers, distinct in shape, systematically arranged, cut across the scene ahead of me.  “A ghost crab,” I mumble and smile.

I pass a low, smooth hill.  The ghost crab has rambled over the mound. 

Turning, looking behind me, my footsteps follow in-line; where I had stopped they turned perpendicular to my trek, crisscross, crowding each other, disrupting their design.  Then they straighten as I continued my walk. 

Marginalia, I ponder.

Ahead I see that the ghost crab turned as if in avoidance.  As I approach the point where the creature abruptly changed its course, a disordered display of Neronic Crosses (peace signs not enclosed in a circle) is imprinted on the sand. 

“An ominous addition to what I’m reading….  Large footprints.  Great blue heron, they eat crabs.”

Shrugging, I continue down the path to the water’s edge.  Entering onto the open beach, I notice the crab’s sentence continues, but with fewer and fewer ciphers punched into the sand.  Here and there I see a leg, a claw, a pincher. 

“Blue herons are adept at removing the appendages of prey,” I say to myself.

Where each crab accessory lies, the squiggles in the sand tell of the crustacean’s terrible demise.  Then as I come upon the line of flotsam, where the waves lap the shore, only the imprint of a pair of broken crosses disturbs the sand. 

“This is where the heron stood and swallowed the delectable torso and ended Nature’s story,” I utter. 

 — ∫∫ —

© Richard Modlin 2010 


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