Sand Castles and Tides

April 6, 2011

I just found a copy of this picture on a memory stick I had in my digital camera case.  I think it’s from at least 8 years ago when my niece Rachel and my nephew Kyle were four and eight years old.  It’s a picture of the great sand castle I used to build with them each year on Grand View Beach in Pine Point, Maine.  We would always wait for when the tide was going to be low most of the day so that you could have a long time to build it and a long time to play with it.  One had to have the right consistency of wet sand so as to be able to stack it up and then shape it into the towers and walls that would be trimmed down with old butter knives and trowels.  The project always involved as many of the kids that were around that day, each one adding his or her own little bit to the project, each to their own ability (I think Rachel did the “drizzle castle” down in the lower left).  Before we began we would spend some time planning out how the castle was to be built, which way would the road wind along the hill, and how big the moat was to be.  It was fun to see it all come together.

The real interesting thing for me was to watch the kids play with the castle after it was built.  Kyle loved to bring out his “army men” – you can clearly see them marching up the road.  It looks like they have already captured the castle, with one lucky warrior perched alone on the main tower. There must be something of real imaginative import happening in the front of the moat to draw the children’s attention so intently.  Perhaps the enemy troops are getting ready to launch a counter attack.  Who knows, but children would often be kept busy for hours on end, even as the tide began to roll closer and closer. Even then, no matter what year, they never seemed to give into the primal temptation to jump on the castle and wreck it.  Instead, we would often stand by and just watch the water begin to gnaw away at the castle bit by bit, betting which one of the towers would be the last to fall.  It was only after all had been reduced to a soaked, smooth bump that we would head back to the beach chairs and blankets for a much needed rest and a cold “frosty” for the adults.

I think we all treasure these moments of family and fun, especially as we and the kids get older.  It’s funny how a found picture on an afternoon in March can conjure up such clear memories of a sunny August day in years gone by.  It’s almost as if God planted an emotional snapshot in my heart as well, one that just needed to be opened from its “memory stick.”  Whatever the case may be, it always leads to a moment of thanksgiving and a spontaneous prayer of “thanks be to God.”