Quickish sand


Act 1

Over the course of about a tenth of a second that was defined by high adrenaline, after having jumped off a small rock ledge while hiking down a saturated arroyo I have been visiting of late, I had this mental conversation with myself (think of Tom Hanks’ maintaining discourse with Wilson while stranded on that island in “Cast Away”) (except that I had once again neglected to bring with me a volleyball) (and I wasn’t stranded on an island):

Wilson (sporting an expression that would be considered passive were it not for the fact that his entire face consists of a bloody hand print): “   ?”

Tom Hanks: “Yes, I know there’s quicksand in these parts!”

Wilson (whose countenance does not fully reflect what would likely be growing exasperation, were he not a volleyball): “   ?”

Tom Hanks: “Of course I know, after last week’s heavy rain, that these are optimal circumstances for the development of pockets of quicksand in a sandy arroyo!”

Wilson (whose unflinching stare is getting kinda creepy): “   ?”

Tom Hanks: “YES! I know what to do if you find yourself mired in quicksand!”

Wilson (whose legitimate concern is reflected by his palm-frond bouffant being tousled by the otherwise pleasant tropical breeze): “   ?”

Tom Hanks: “I read it in a book, that’s how!”

Wilson (whose eyes do seem to be rolling if you view them from just the right angle): “   ?”

Tom Hanks (with faux incredulity): “I checked it out of the library!”

Wilson (befuddled): “   ?”

Tom Hanks: “I KNOW there’s no library on this island! It was long before I met you!”


Then my feet hit solid ground and I walked on, having only sunk in about Achilles-tendon deep.


Wilson (smirking): “   ?”

Tom Hanks: “Don’t worry … I won’t jump into potential soft spots any more! Jeez! You must think I’m an idiot! Besides, the actual danger posed by quicksand is highly overrated and overwhelmingly misstated.”




Act 2

Not two minutes later, my dog Casey, walking, as is her habit, ahead of me, jumped off a different rock ledge — one she has launched from numerous times before — onto what appeared to be nothing more than flood-swirled mud lining the bottom of the arroyo.

Before I could react enough to utter a frantic, “Oh, shit!” Casey was pretty much gone. The only visible physical components were the tip of her nose and the tip of her tail.

Thankfully, she bound out of her predicament so finger-snap quick that the wet dirt did not even have time to adhere to her fur. She shook and ran off, barely breaking stride.

Had the pocket been six inches deeper, I would not have known how far down it went, for nothing of my dog would have remained evident. I would have had to take a leap of faith in hopes of extricating my submerged canine companion.


Once I ascertained there was little risk, I tried to coax Casey back into the mire from which she had just effortlessly escaped, for the sake of photographically recording the circumstances for posterity. She was less than enthusiastic. I articulated the misconceptions regarding quicksand in hopes that she would see things my way. She did not. By the time she reached the spot-in-question, the viscosity had stabilized, so she did not once more sink, much to my disappointment.

We passed by this same area on the way out. She gave it a wide berth, lest her pet human’s knowledge of the properties of quicksand were inaccurate.


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