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Perspectives are commentaries produced by and for WNIJ listeners, from a panel of regular contributors and guests. You're invited to comment on or respond to any Perspective on our Facebook page or through Twitter (@wnijnews), in keeping with our Discussion Policy. If you would like to submit your own Perspective for consideration, send us a script that will run about 90 seconds when read -- that's about 250 words -- and email it to NPR@niu.edu, with "Perspectives" in the subject line.

Perspective: Sandscript

On the sandbars of the lower Wisconsin River near Wyalusing, someone has been drawing in the sand in a most curious cursive. It’s a new language, I think, and I’ll call it sandscript.

Where the river meets the land this sandscript is difficult to decipher. Who wrote these meandering sentences and what do they say? It’s a foggy morning, and the herons and the other campers are still asleep. The river flows quietly, mindful of the hour. The authors did their writing before dawn. I follow the sentences mutely down the sandbar, leaving my own sign. It feels good to walk barefoot on wet sand.

The strange calligraphy traverses the sandscape like the tracks of a plover. My best guess is that snails are the scriveners, but I can’t locate an author. The sentences stop without end punctuation, like the author has flown mid thought… or, more likely, burrowed into the sand.

At the end of one long sentence I dig. There I unearth a most tiny author, a bivalve: river clam, size of an eye tooth. Now I see. Dozens of small clams have written their stories on this sandbar. Since I’m the only one here, I must be the audience. The clams must be writing for me.

With the mystery of authorship solved, the sandscript itself becomes legible. I can read the language of the clams! The messages are clear. “There are worse places to spend a morning,” one sentence reads. “How sweet it is!” reads another. Now I can’t wait for the others to wake up. I have a story to tell them.

I’m Chris Fink and that’s my Perspective.