Sand as a component of soil is defined as a soil particle ranging in size from 0.005 to 2.0mm, anything smaller is silt or clay and anything larger is not considered soil. Sand is also one the three soil textural classes.

We are at the reservoir of a place where rocks are beaten and beaten with hearty blows of water and other rocks into sand.

The water isn't green or blue, it's brown. Brown and warm, very shallow, like a puddle. We wade out. And out. And out. Our blanket and bags are dots on the beach. The sand beneath my feet is more like mud as my feet sink in, and in, and in, as through the belly of some decaying soft beast. It seems unnatural to be this far out and only waist high in water. Salty, salty water the color of pennies turning green in the change tray of the car.

We come back to find that the wind has buried our belongings in sand. The blanket looks like just a frame of a sandbox, our shoes black moles buried to their necks by sick children's pranks. The wind pushed the sand to bite into our legs and feet so much that we could not stay.

In the reservoir merely tainted with nature, we are small bits of paper or lice, crawling over the back of some larger creature who barely feels us biting over its slick surface. As it runs.

The world is too much with us.

We drove off watching the sand lurch and crumble, the tan people pretending they are still kings on this island. Every day we stay alive is simply day the big world decides we are not worth killing, by fire, lightning, wind or rain.

There are two main patterns of sand created by wind: the tiny wet peaks and the large dune-waves. The latter are the kind most people are familiar with, the gently curving layers reminiscent of the underside of a snake. The wet sand, however, is not moved so easily, which is what leads to the former. Minute imperfections lead to very tiny peaks in the flat surface of waterlogged sand, peaks that are carved by abrasion into sharply defined little ridges that leave stark shadows when the afternoon sun hangs low in the sky. Otherwise, the flatness is grey and unremarkable until it fades to white and the undulating waves begin again.

I turned and faced into the wind, and looked to the strip to see a layer of white mist that moved at breakneck speed, breaking in places and rejoining as mist does, and rushing past my feet to the expanse beyond. This was the sand, blown in flat clouds, and I watched it and realized where those tiny wet-sand ridges came from. It was then that I realized that the sand was not just flowing, but breaking on the ridges and the dunes, cresting and breaking in waves, and each small hill was built up as a windbreak gathered more and more sand until it reached that equilibrium at which sand settles.

This made me step back to the walkway and look down, to see the rushing waves of sand directly perpendicular to the breakers of the Atlantic. And what I found surprising was not what my eyes saw - the parallels between the sand and the water - but what my mind instantly corrected in what I saw. That is, the sand and the water were actually moving in very - extremely - different ways. Water moves in waves just like air moves in waves when sound is produced: it isn't displaced along the wave, but simply moves up and down. When a wave crests on the beach, water is not actually being dragged from far out in the ocean to the shore. The same water is simply carrying successive waves of force, caused mainly by gravity. The sand, on the other hand, was being displaced, and if the wind were to continue unabated for an eternity, then the sand would pile far, far up the Eastern seaboard, where no doubt children would play and set makeshift flags on its peaks until chased away by the adults who 'knew better' and saw money in the thing.

It would take so much more force to move grains of sand in the way the ocean is displaced in waves, greater, at least, in immediacy than the force the moon exerts on the planet and that the Earth's core exerts on its own surface. If you have ever seen a shockwave that disrupts the Earth's crust you know what I mean. Atomic tests come to mind, as do asteroids and very large earthquakes. Horrible things move the ground like it was the ocean. Be glad the wind pushes the sand instead.

Some say this sort of thing is the death of romance, this mind's eye understanding that does not allow me to see the art in the simple confluence of sand and surf, but only in their complex difference for similar effect. I can't write poetry any other way, though, so if all this wonderful Western empiricism is a handicap then I was simply born with nothing below the knees, as it were. I would very much like to think it a virtue I have acquired in its nascent stages, as it begins to understand things far better than it once did and carries me along for the ride. I would like to think it improves poetry like being a chef improves your appreciation of an excellent meal.

I was standing there on the sand again and watching the sand swirl around me and thinking that these waves are mechanistic like all geology, this process, but if I were told that this was an alien machine that had gone on for millennia to make these tiny ridges and control such complex processes as wind erosion does, I would yelp and cry and try to get my feet out of the sandstream. I would moan, "I am in the way! Stop it! Let me get out!" Because I would feel like I was standing halfway into something I could not grasp intellectually, and that might sweep up and kill me even though it had never done so before in all recorded history.

It would certainly not help if the sand was green or the people were some alien species or if the wind sounded like harmonic howling, as it so often does even here on Earth. And if you told me that there were tiny little clawed and chitinous creatures that lived under my feet in the flesh of this machine, I would be afraid of them and for them. Look out, I am a giant who is very frightened, because you have more legs than me, and harder skin, and live where I cannot see.

I would want to get the hell out of that weird alien machine as fast as I could. And yet there I stood, because this Earth-North-Carolina-Sunset-Beach-machine is a nice and comforting machine. I remember standing in it as a small child and failing to understand even more than I fail to understand now, and somehow this imparts a feeling of security. Perhaps because it did not kill me then in my time of weakness. This is the wonder of nature.

from a letter to my love in the early morning to say that I am doing all right

A song by Einsturzende Neubaten, released on the album Halber Mensch

Length: 3:30

Quite a strange love ballad, even for EN. Vocalist Blixa Bargeld upstages the group's trademark gritty, physical percussion, which also almost takes a back seat to the simple guitar tune. The beat (unusually simple for EN) and guitar combined give the song a Spanish or Arabic feeling to me, in a "movie stereotype of a faraway land" kind of way. While the focus on guitar and vocals might seem like steps toward pop conventionality for a band known for its compositions of sampled noise (which are thoughtfully intricate as often as they are purposely crude), EN manages to make this tamer offering sound very remote and alien, with Blixa pushing two distinct characters through the narrative of the song, the more passionate and tortured of which he sings in two voices. In any case, they sure get the "I am a stranger in your land" feeling out.

Note that some of the words aren't quite pronounced as what they're obviously intended to be - for instance, "wandering" sounds more like "wandered" to me, and "my" sounds like "me". This could be because of Blixa's accent, because of his purposely odd singing, or possibly intentional, to add a little distinctiveness to his characters. It's impossible to tell, and in any case the intended words are clear.

The three voices he sings in:

  • "low voice": Like Blixa's normal singing voice, a deep, guttural tone.
  • "middle voice": More like Blixa's "good singing" voice (as heard on such songs as Stella Maris) but not quite as tuneful. Higher than normal, and less guttural, but not falsetto and not whispered
  • "high whisper": A soft whisper, almost falsetto, but still guttural.


(low voice)
Young woman, share your fire with me
My heart is cold, my soul is free
I am a stranger in your land, wandering man, call me Sand.

(high whisper)
Oh, sir, my fire is very small
It won't warm thy heart at all
But thee may take me by the hand, hold my hand, I call you Sand.

(low voice)
Young woman, share your fire with me
My heart is cold, my soul is free
I am a stranger in your land, wandering man, call me Sand.

(middle voice)
At night when stars light up the sky! (sound of glass breaking)
Oh sir, I dream my fire is high
Oh taste these lips sir, if you can, wandering man, I called you Sand.

(interlude, mechanical and electronic sounds)

(high whisper)
Oh sir, my fire is burning high
If it should stop, sir, I would die
A shooting star has crossed my land, wandering man...
(low voice)
...she whispered, "Sand".

(low voice)
Young woman, shared her fire with me
Now warms herself in memory
I was a stranger in her land, wandering man, she called me Sand.

(middle voice)
He was a stranger in my land, wandering man, I called him Sand.

Thanks to for "If it should stop, sir, I would die."

Particles in siliciclastic sediment that range in size from 0.0625 millimeters (very fine-grained sand) to 2.0 millimeters (very coarse-grained sand), according to the Udden-Wentworth scale. In field geology, to tell the difference between fine-grained sand and coarse silt, the particle in a rock is "sand" if it can be clearly seen with the naked eye.

From the BioTech Dictionary at For further information see the BioTech homenode.

Sand (?), n. [AS. sand; akin to D. zand, G. sand, OHG. sant, Icel. sandr, Dan. & Sw. sand, Gr. .]


Fine particles of stone, esp. of siliceous stone, but not reduced to dust; comminuted stone in the form of loose grains, which are not coherent when wet.

That finer matter, called sand, is no other than very small pebbles. Woodsward.


A single particle of such stone.




The sand in the hourglass; hence, a moment or interval of time; the term or extent of one's life.

The sands are numbered that make up my life. Shak.

4. pl.

Tracts of land consisting of sand, like the deserts of Arabia and Africa; also, extensive tracts of sand exposed by the ebb of the tide.

"The Libyan sands." Milton. "The sands o'Dee." C. Kingsley.


Courage; pluck; grit.



© Webster 1913.

Sand (?), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Sanded; p. pr. & vb. n. Sanding.]


To sprinkle or cover with sand.


To drive upon the sand.




To bury (oysters) beneath drifting sand or mud.


To mix with sand for purposes of fraud; as, to sand sugar.


<-- 5. To grind down or make smooth by rubbing with an abrasive object, esp. with sandpaper; to sand down -->


© Webster 1913.

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