Today's simple walk on the beach at the GTM NERR* was unexpectedly transformed into sand castle day, with various works of beach art under construction or on display, each punctuating our walk with the spontaneity of sand as a primary construction material. The wind was huffed a bit out of the southeast, offering no hints about any weather coming from the Lesser Antilles. In fairness, it must be said that those hints might have been there, but if so, they were too subtle for our modest meteorology. From our view, the southeast wind just meant lots of sand in the water, and a high tide that pushed in a bit more than perhaps the moon might have pulled on its own. This first picture is of a castle under construction, with its retaining wall and moat being carefully built in the early afternoon just past the high tide. "I've never actually built a sand castle before," one of the engineers told us, "we're just trying to entertain them." This was with a toss of the head toward the children who were clearly heading up the Design and Construction departments. "They" seemed abundantly entertained.
This entry was very nicely done and had a certain beguiling charm and individualism. Its authors were modest about their talents, and philosophical about the future of their construction, joking about the inevitable tragic end awaiting all sand castles, including their own.
A few short yards south on the beach led us to this professional-looking design and execution, clearly constructed with the aid of some of the modern high-tech sand-castle-building tools of the trade. It was no less charming or fun to look at, for all that, though it seemed to have been abandoned by its builders. They were splashing and laughing in the warm water, undisturbed by the thought of the certain destruction that will come with the next high tide.
Reflecting the experience of living in The Walled City, as St. Augustine was once called, this entry, whose construction team had, sadly enough, departed the scene by the time of our observation, was built with safeguards against weather and water. The moat allows waves to surround the building and then flow back toward the sea, and the building includes small tunnel in support of the concept.
The final outcome of that very first project is shown in this photo, where you can see the architectural flourishes and touches in the form of carefully selected shells. As the first sand construction to greet us, and the one to bid us farewell, we had a special fondness for it, but we leave the real thinking to you.
Where are your sand castle photos? Have you taken your kids to the beach for a construction project or a kite fly or a swim or just a lazy afternoon? If you have, you know we want to hear about it. Even if you don't feel like sharing it, we hope you enjoyed it thoroughly. And we gently remind you that it's never too late. Get out there.
*Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve. I know, I know: it's a mouthful, all right. But it's a treasure, and as our friends @pontevedrahomes have reminded us (and we paraphrase, here): It's the land none of us can buy, and all of us own.
Photo credits: Angela Christensen (c) 2011