Friday, November 25, 2005

Pebbles in the Sand

When I was a little kid, my family used to take trips to the beach. Some years, that'd be our only vacation. The nearest stretch of coast that any of us knew about was Pismo Beach, California. It's a good surfing beach, which didn't matter to us because we didn't surf, and it's adjacent to the Oceano Dunes State Recreational Vehicle Area, which didn't matter to us because we didn't ride motorcycles or own a motorhome. It was the closest place that we could get to by car, that had something for my brother and I to do, and that would allow my parents to sit on the balcony of the motel room and watch us while we played.

We'd walk up and down the beach, make the long pilgrimage to the pier for Hot Lix lollipops and the video arcade, and test our individual fortitude by trying to wade in the frigid surf until just beyond the point where our legs turned blue. Pismo is a very windy, very cold beach. About four miles up the shore, there is a good sunbathing beach, Avila Beach, protected from the sandblasting wind by a gentle curve of the hills and a generous breakwater. We never went there. I didn't know about it until I moved to San Luis Obispo to attend college. No, we only knew of Pismo.

So my brother and I were two little kids, making sandcastles and freezing our asses off on this long stretch of barely hospitable beach. We loved it.

The thing I loved most about it was that, because the surf is so rough and the shore that it's beating against is so rocky, the beach after high tide would be a mosaic of multicolored pebbles. I'd walk along the shoreline for hours, picking up the most interesting rocks, washing them in the water, tucking them in all of my pockets. My mom would lay out all of the rocks at the end of the trip and make me choose a handful of them. If she hadn't done so, I would have hauled home five pounds of pebbles and smooth bits of sandstone at the end of every vacation. I'd always beg her to let me take more, and she'd say no, and as we drove away from the motel, I'd think about the little pile of rocks that I'd had to leave behind and I'd stare out the window and cry. I wasn't always the happiest child in the car. As it was, my mom would usually miss a few stones in my pockets, only finding them once she did laundry and heard them beating against the inside of the dryer.

When this ball of yarn arrived as part of a thank-you package, it took me back to that time. I knit it up on size 19 needles, and the more I knit, the more it looked like those pebbles, spread out on a hotel towel, waiting for me to pick my handful. The yarn is Cervinia 'Fiamma', a thick-and-thin wool/acrylic. It was a dream to work with, so soft and fluffy. I managed to get the whole scarf with just one 92 yard ball.

It was a quick knit. I think it's only about twelve stitches across. The ends fluffed out a little bit because I didn't think to knit them with smaller needles, so I sewed their corners together. Now I can tuck one end into the other and keep them from flapping about in the breeze, or pull one end through the other keyhole-style. It's warm and soft, and I plan to wear it all of the time.

Not to Pismo Beach, though. I'd never get the sand out of the fibers.

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