You know how they say that “curiosity killed the cat?” In this case, curiosity poured the sand. I’m quite sure the question on your lips is, “Why are you pouring sand?” Grab a cup of coffee and curl up in front of a fire and I’ll tell you the story of the sand.
I was in a thrift store, walking around, as I typically do when searching for treasures for pennies when I overheard a conversation between the owner and a couple of the workers. When I first found this store, I figured it was a “Mom ‘n Pop place as there was a little old man and his wife working at time time. Further stops at this store proved that idea wrong; I met the owner, a man roughly my age was the actual owner and the elder couple were working for him. The owner was a slight man with the most irritating, yet infections laugh. When he starts to laugh about something, typically out of apparent nervousness, you want to laugh right along with him. It was this man that I overheard, instructing the older couple on what he wanted done while he was gone. He was filling them in on the things that had arrived that morning and what he wanted done with them. He had received quite a few donations from others for him to sell in his second-hand store.
As I pretended to be casually looking around, I heard him say, “… and there’s this box that’s taped shut. It feels like it is simply full of sand, so I’m scared to open it. ”
With his characteristic laugh, he continued, “I may just throw it away. I haven’t decided. Maybe you two can figure out what to do with it while I’m at lunch.”
I glanced over to see what he was talking about rather quickly so he wouldn’t know I was listening and then continued meandering around the store. Every few moments, I would glance back to where he was talking and pretend to have no interest in what he was saying, just glancing over. After a period of time, they made their way back to the front of the store and I walked as casually as I could over to this box to get a good look. My intent was to appear as if I was simply walking that way in my wanderings and still had no clue what he had been saying to his workers.
The box was metal and appeared to be on the older side. The scene on the top was a winter one; a playful rendition of a Norman Rockwell picture with the soft browns and greens, a touch of pale blue. One could assume it was a Christmastime scene when they take in the carriage drawn by horses with a wreath on it; the grocery store with a church steeple on the top complete with a brilliant Christmas star. There was two small children waving at others while drawing a sled with a tree on it with a dog romping in front of them. This box had rust spots here and there but otherwise looked well cared for. This was a box that had weathered time and looked good for its age. The sides had a few red pin-stripes on them and I turned it to get a better look.
When I turned the box slightly, bits of white sand came floating out of the scotch-taped edges. The tape was starting to wear out and didn’t contain the contents very well any longer. On one side had a white sticky note that had mostly worn away with time and the words, “Jewelry” and “start” were apparent but not much else of the original writing was legible. A quick glance at the bottom of the box to get a date reference produced more white sand flowing out. On the bottom were several spots where glue had originally held some sort of paper to the box. One could assume that the original paper would have told more about what the box was all about but it was long gone, except for a few small bits stuck to the original glue.
I decided the curiosity was going to kill me so I carried the box ever so carefully up to the front counter and set it down. I looked the owner in the eye and said, “From sheer curiosity, I’ll give you a dollar for this box, just so I can figure out what is in it.”
He let out his short anxious laugh and said, “Sure, why not. I was thinking of throwing it away,” and I gave him my dollar plus tax. Carrying it carefully, I set it on the floorboards of Rendy and drove away. I was full of wonderment in the idea that I might have just paid a dollar for someone’s carefully store costume jewelry or perhaps pieces of someones craft-making for jewelry. I’m quite sure no one would be so silly as to leave precious jewelry in an old box like this but I couldn’t wait to find out what really was in it. My mind flitted over all manner of ideas for the long drive home.
It was only a few minutes to get home but a ride never felt so long. I was simply dying with curiosity about that box and couldn’t wait – I wanted to floor the gas and risk a speeding ticket so I could open it up right away!
Unfortunately, I got tackled by children when I arrived home, so it sat in the backseat of the Rendezvous for a few days. After that, the holidays got in the way and, quite naturally, the box was forgotten. Last night, when I saw the box still on the floorboards of Rendy, I decided I must know what as in it. I grabbed one of our white trash bags from under our kitchen counter and, with everyone gathering around to see what was in this box that I carried so carefully into the house, I carefully started picking and peeling the worn out tape from the box. A great deal of it would fall off in huge pieces. It had started to lose its effectiveness and wasn’t quite holding the box shut any longer; in the process, the white trash bag started accumulating quite a bit of the white sand I had seen since I first saw the box.
After I had gotten all the tape off and the box lid was unfettered, I carefully pulled upwards on it. Feeling it stick from being so long shut tight with the tape, I pulled just a little bit harder. I was worried about possibly breaking what might be buried in the sand inside and didn’t want to harm any contents that may be valuable, so I moved slowly. Those around me were anxious to find out what was in it and tried to help. I shooed them away so I could work carefully on my box.
Pulling the lid completely off, I set it gently to the side and stared at the contents for a moment. What I saw was a box full of white sand and not much else. I could see a few bits of flowers and leaves in the sand, giving it splashes of color. I reached in and, with one finger, probed the sand, looking to see what was under it. My thoughts were of someone carefully packing a treasure in sand to protect it. I could feel nothing so I eventually stuck my entire hand into the sand, lifting it and letting it sift through my fingers, waiting for a treasure to stay in my hand after the sand was gone.
Nothing remained. My hand was empty after the sand fell back into the box.
My son reached in and started feeling around in the sand, playing with it as well. The Nanny started laughing, “It’s just sand. All that for just sand.” I shushed her and went back to searching the sand to see what I could find.
We didn’t find anything but fine white sand and those same pits of foliage apparently left over from years gone by.
I brought my index finger to my lips and licked it, placed it in the sand and then licked it again. Much to my dismay, it really was simply sand. The taste was awful and I licked my own shirt several times, trying to get the sand off my tongue. My curious children did the same and, after realizing it was disgusting, looked at me as if I had poked them with a stick and caused them pain. They blamed me for their having nasty sand on their tongues and they were beside themselves, trying to get the taste to go away.
We now had a beautiful old metal Christmastime box full of white sand. Jen was beside herself with laughter at my silliness over a box of sand but I went looking for something to put the sand in. I found an old vase that is no longer used and poured the sand into it. When I poured the sand into it, it drifted in beautiful layers, occasionally broken up with those beautiful bits of color from the old flowers and leaves. It now sits on my mantle as a reminder of the curiosity of humans – most especially mine.
Of course, what Jen forgets is – I had the same sense of wonderment and was just as anxious as any child on Christmas morning, wanting to know what was in that old metal box.