Making sandcastles was my favorite thing to do when we visited the ocean as kids. I could sit at the shore for hours, devising moats, dripping wet sand into artfully ornate turrets, populating little pools with sand fleas and seaweed, and waiting for the inevitable destruction of high tide. It was the only time I didn’t mind watching all my hard work get washed away. In fact, that was an integral component of my enjoyment: the finite period of time in which the creation lived. It made it all more precious somehow.
On this recent trip to the beach, it took a while before I remembered the fun of it. Emi was asking me to help her dig a hole on the beach, and before we knew it we’d started building a castle. It was a highlight of the vacation, returning to the lost land of my childhood imagination, where mermaids occupied my moats and princes waited for other princes to drop by for tea.
All such fantasies must come to an end, and this one came at the hands of the crashing ocean. The incoming tide waits for no one, and spares no castle, prince or not.
There was beauty in its destruction, though. There is often beauty in destruction, if you know how to look at it.
Wind, water, and time – and a little pull from the moon – brought about the end to our temporary castle in the sand.
And then it was as if it was never there – as if we had never been there.
A sailboat drifted into the onslaught of early evening. Our last full day on the Cape was coming to its close, and no one was ready.
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Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand: Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand! ~ Edna St. Vincent Millay