By Eve Marx
For Cannon Beach Gazette
Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of sweeping. Mostly I’ve been sweeping sand. As summer winds to its inevitable end, I’ve been trying to spend as s much time as possible on the beach; walking it; planting my bare feet in the sand; staring into the mysteries of the water.
When you live in a beach resort town, you either avoid the beach all summer (bummer), or learn to tune out or accept the hordes of summer people who converge on your sacred spaces pretty much nonstop June through August. One of the blessings when the crowds finally thin out is having the beach to your self again, or at least you, and a handful of dog owners.
There’s been sand in my moccasins and sand in my trouser cuffs nearly every day now as I arrange and rearrange my schedule to accommodate more beach walking. It seems no matter how diligent I am about getting sand off my person before entering the house, I fail and fail again in this endeavor. Sand blows across the wooden floors. It collects in the bathroom corners. I find it on the counter tops and in between the chair cushions. One night I awoke in the early dawn hours to discover a fine scrim of sand strewn across the bottom sheet, delivered no doubt off the feet of Lucy, our miniature pinscher, who is a bed burrower.
Sand, I find, is best removed from the house by broom sweeping. Sand is not really good for the vacuum cleaner, particularly if have a nice one. We’ve had the same Miele machine for quite a few years. I find twice as effective than the central vac that came with our house when we bought it. Beach sand, no matter how clean, is a bit stinky; once it gets inside your vacuum cleaner hose, it causes a low tide kind of reeking. I took the Miele in to Astoria Vacuums on Marine Drive in Astoria for a cleaning and tune up, which resulted in a few days of me having no choice but to sweep the sand up.
There’s something mesmerizing about the act of sweeping. Unless you’ve taken up farming in Nehalem, sweeping might be the closest thing many of us will ever experience to manual labor. On the other hand, If you work in a shop or a restaurant in Cannon Beach in the summer, it must seem there is no end to the sweeping.
Many people have other people to do the sweeping; the days of people cleaning their own houses seems a relic of the past. And yet I remember the lazy mornings of my own childhood summers at the shore, my assigned chore to sweep down the stairs. Day after day I recall small mountains of sand piling up, blowing in the wind.
If you’re looking for an accessible mystical experience, try sweeping sand. There is something magical about every grain.
And now, my daily sweeping done, I will reward myself with a slice of crystallized ginger, which, come to think of it, is sort of like eating candy lightly dusted with sand.