Laflines l The Sands of Time | Columnists

Doesn’t it often happen, when we least expect it, how up will pop clear signs that we have someone looking after us. A divine hand of compassion and, yes, humor.

I was reminiscing with a dear friend just the other day about a place a few miles east of Georgian Bay called Grundy Lake Provincial Park. The Park is an example of the glacier shaped landscape of the Canadian Shield – carved granite spotted with bogs, ponds, lakes, and mixed forest. It was and remains a nature lover’s paradise. Fifty-plus years ago, my family met our Canadian relatives to go camping there for two successive summers.

These were idyllic days of swimming in a rock-bottom lake of pristine waters, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, beachside reading, playing Euchre in a dining tent, and campfire sitting at night. As it turned out, my friend’s husband and his brothers owned a cabin in the same area. Small-world.

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But less than a week later, as I combed through the last of what I was removing from my Flagler townhouse, the realtor handed me a small vial. “I don’t know if you might want this,” she asked me. The vial was labeled “Grundy Sand” in penmanship reminiscent of my mother’s hand from her.

How, amidst all the possessions that had once been mine and my sister’s, had that tiny object managed to surface, without someone of lesser sensitivity tossing it thoughtlessly into a garbage can? It speaks to the caliber of realtor I was fortunate to find. I hesitated, the briefest of moments. Did I want it? Its size, not bigger than a thimble. Yet it represented such happiness and childhood abandon. How could I ever consign it to a garbage pile?

So I answered in the affirmative and stowed it away in one of my many pack-up bags. In the dead of night, I awakened obsessing about it. The first thing I did the following morning as I prepared to leave my hotel was to be certain I had secured it safely in my car.

It will have a place of honor in my office, a constant reminder of worry-free days when we fed chipmunks on sunny afternoons, and drove to a garbage dump to watch bears forage for food as night fell. A tiny vial of sand can bring me right back to the rocky cliffs we leapt from, believing ourselves invincible. To the beach walks we took dodging rocks along our path.

I imagine myself shaking this vial and an array of images being displayed. My uncle donning Long John’s beneath his Bermuda shorts, then parading around the campground, eventually causing my aunt’s annoyance to melt into laughter.

Or, another shake of my vial, and young love blossomed as my older sister and her new Canadian girlfriend had paired up with a couple of handsome dudes. It was a summer romance destined to end. But I recall looking at her enviously, a tad too young to venture into the hormone inducing prospect of a summer fling. And I was inordinately shy to top it off. If any cues were sent my way, keeping my eyes averted kept anything from landing or developing.

One more shake of my vial, and we were toasting marshmallows over an open campfire. I liked to let mine catch fire, then blow the flame out, giving it a moment to cool off, before plopping the gooey mess into my mouth. “Heaven” in one full swallow. An early sign of pyromania? Hardy. I just happened to like my marshmallows “well done.” Still do, for the record.

So now I am in possession of a vial containing Grundy sand. My mother recorded it as such, perhaps with the forethought that, much like time capsules are unearthed, this small treasure would surface at just the right moment. And so it has. With the closing of one chapter in my life, I get to reopen old, time worn pages of my history. I am trading in coquina sand for sand all the way from Georgian Bay, well over 50 years old.

But this vial has magic properties which take only my vivid imagination to activate. Somehow, I believe I ended up with the better end of the deal.

Lynne Farrell Abrams has a bachelor’s degree in communication. She has been a writer and editor, an adult education writing instructor, and a substance abuse counselor. A resident of Citrus County for over 11 years, Lynne is now happily retired.

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