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Jamming in the Sandbox

by Donald Price
page one

"Pop pop putta-putta-pop-pop," went Mickey's toy John Deere tractor whenever I used it for farm work in the sandbox. I wasn't farming, however, the day I was using it to skid a pallet of Popsicle sticks up to my willow twig and sand building. One wall had caved in because the twigs wouldn't retain sand. The whole building was ready to topple when I found my son's pallet of Popsicle sticks. Ah-ha, dimensional lumber, I thought.

"Pop pop. Putta Pop. Pop." As building beams, the Popsicle sticks were heavy.

I shifted into a lower gear. "Pop pop puttaputtaputtaputta," I had to hurry before my little boy saw my shoddy walls. They didn't match my lectures on "good craftsmanship" and I worried the contradiction might confuse him.

"What ya makin', Dad, a campfire?" Mickey said.

"Huh-oh!" I said, startled. "Watch out, Mick, the other walls are about to collapse, too!

I can't make'm stay up."

"What ya' making?" he asked again.

"Oh. Umm, a building. For the horses."

"You making a barn?"

"Yes, and I need your help. Do you have any more Popsicle sticks?"

We always helped each other with our special building talents. My talents were practical procedures, traditional design and completed projects. His were engineered methods, contemporary architecture, and elegant improvements.

"Hey, I gotta idea!" he said. "Let's make some mud."

"Mud? Mud, yes, great idea Mick! You get the garden hose and I'll get a bucket of dirt."

We worked on our structure until I had to go in and clean up for work--for the second time that morning. I stopped by the sandbox for another look before leaving.

"That is going to be a sturdy barn," I said. "It should be dry when I get home this afternoon."

"It looks dirty," Mickey said.

"Let's landscape it? It'll look better with nice landscaping," I said.

"The horses will prob'ly eat all the little trees and flowers."

"Oh, uh Corral. I meant. It'll look better with a corral."

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