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February 18, 2012

How to See the Beauty of a Single Grain of Sand

Coastal Living February 2012After seeing photos of magnified and gemlike grains of sand, Dana McCranie reflects on her childhood by the beach, the passing of her father and the value of art.

I grew up 15 minutes from the beach. My father loved the ocean, and living near water was always a requirement for him. I’ll be the first to admit I took this location for granted. I realized this when I went to college in Tuscaloosa, Ala. and no longer had daily access to the sight of the endless ocean and its beautifully crashing waves.

My first job out of college took be back to the beach, and this time I lived just five minutes from the ocean. After that, my husband and I lived in California for the first year of our marriage and then we moved back home to North Alabama. I’ve spent the past 10 years living a full day’s drive from the closest beach, and I desperately miss the luxury of wiggling my toes in the sand on any given day. When I miss the beach, I’ll often pick up Coastal Living magazine and escape within its pages. It sometimes serves as a quick little substitution for being able to actually make a trip.

In the current issue of Costal Living, readers are treated to a different look at sand. The magazine features images that show just how different each grain actually is and how each truly is its own work of art. Former biomedical researcher Gary Greenberg used to spend his time looking through the lens of a microscope at living cancer and nerve cells. “The Secret Life of Sand” tells the story of how one day he put some sand he received from his brother under the microscope. He saw amazing textures, colors and shapes. Greenberg’s discovery changed his life and led to the invention of a new art form. He now photographs grains of sand magnified up to 300 times their size.

The images displayed on the page are so magical they caused my heart to race. I thought of my father, who passed away a year ago, and how much he would have loved this marriage of art and science. He was a brilliant engineer who loved the ocean. These images would have surely generated a wonderful discussion about life, beauty and fishing.

Some of Greenberg’s photos are featured alongside panoramic shots of sunsets and beaches, “to remind people where they came from,” he says. Although I consider Alabama my home, I know that every future visit to the ocean will be a reminder of Daddy and where I came from. At first I counted it strange that these images of sand should take me to such rich thoughts of my dad, but that’s what good art does. It travels through our eyes straight to our hearts.



About the Author

Dana McCranie
Dana McCranie
Dana McCranie writes, prays, laughs, loves glitter and will hug you even if you try to shake her hand. You can often find her behind her camera, striving to build a photography business. You'll never find her as happy as she is dancing around her kitchen with her daughter, son and amazing husband.




  • Christy Jo

    Wow! Who would have know that sand would look like that up close!!! Amazing! Thank you for reminding me not to take forgranted that I live only an hour from the beach… think I might go stick my toes in the sand today!!

  • Maryand1

    Dana, such a touching article. You are very talented. I know you miss you Dad, just keep remembering the good times. Peggy once gave me a baby food jar of “snow” from Washington
    state. I kept it for about 25 years, but it disappeared, probably in a move. The sand reminded
    me of the jar of snow. Love you,
    Mary

  • Anonymous

    Thank you so much, Mary and thank you for that sweet memory. I love that and I miss you!

  • Anonymous

    I hope you do and that while you are there you have the best time ever! ;) I will live vicariously through you.