Thursday, September 4, 2014

Sandcastles and Summer Days Gone Too Soon

On an overnight "girls' getaway" to the Jersey Shore, we set down our beach chairs a few yards away from a formless lump of sand. What became of that pile of sand was as magical and fleeting as the summer days gone by ...

Why does it seem that the days with the longest amount of sunlight slip away quicker than any other time of year? Every September, I give into a feeling of melancholy as I bid summer an unofficial farewell. It's the bittersweet return to a scheduled life of waking up early to catch the bus, of an action-packed calendar of events and of the phrase, "It's a school night." Sigh! Those summer days of waking up to brilliant sunshine, flexible schedules and nights of relaxation are gone too soon.

It's like that heap of sand sitting a few yards away from where my friends and I plopped our beach chairs on a pleasant July day this past summer. At first, I thought the inverted plastic tub, filled with sand and missing a bottom, had been a cast off from a late night beach party. After all, that type of tub typically held ice and a keg. I quickly lost interest in the apparently broken keg tub as did the rest of the "girls" as we fell into our usual routine of catching up on each others' lives, applying sunblock and luxuriating in the fact that we could sit still long enough to actually read a book or a magazine without having to worry about our respective young children wandering away or complaining about being hot, hungry, thirsty or in need of a non-existent bathroom.

Here we are soaking up the rays
 on the Ocean City, NJ boardwalk.
Despite those children residing miles away at home, they did manage to dominate our thoughts and conversations. As we chatted away, a man appeared to our right and laid claim to the bottomless tub embedded in the sand. It soon became evident that he wasn't cleaning up after a late night beach party, but rather molding a base for what would become a glorious sand castle.

All day, hour after hour, the man leaned, squatted, knelt and stretched over the hill of sand adding turrets created from PVC pipes and chiseling details like doorways and stone walls. He made runs to the ocean chasing the receding tide in order to collect water to sure up his creation. The sun rose higher and more intense, but still the man patted, carved and brushed. 

At some point, I made a comment that I was secretly rich and had commissioned the man to build a sand castle for our entertainment. (It reminded me of those Straight Talk Wireless commercials!) The man's family eventually joined him with their boogie boards, chairs and sand toys, yet still he kept his focus on the task of transforming the pile of sand in front of him into a castle worthy of a fairy tale.

It seemed like a lot of effort for something that would be washed away with the next high tide. As I thought about it, I wondered if it was even worth all the time and energy to build it, snap a picture or two and leave for the evening only to return the next day to a flat stretch of beach with barely a sign that anything grand ever stood in that particular spot. It begged the question, "Why bother?"Of course, once I really gave it thought, I knew the answer. 

It's the very essence that lies at the heart of all creative endeavors and one of the most basic rules of life, for that matter. It's never really about the end product. Obviously, the completed sand castle was a sight to admire as is any finished and polished work of art. But for the sand carver and anyone indulging in a creative project, it's the process that yields the greatest joy! Maybe that's why as my friends and I were packing up, the man's daughter was helping him to create yet another base for yet another sand castle in the shadow of the first one. 

Just as the sand castle is all but a memory, so, too, have gone the days of summer with its memories of not only this girls' getaway, but also of spending time with my family doing all the fun things that only warm, carefree days can provide. I'm glad to have enjoyed them ... even if they were gone too soon, much like a sand castle facing the impending high tide.  


Audry Fryer is the author of women's fiction novels, SECRETS, LIES AND APPLE PIES and GOING BAREFOOT IN GREENER GRASS both available for Kindle and Nook. She has a new short story, SUNSET ORANGE CRUSH.

Get it before the sun goes down on the summer of 2014!

$0.99 for Kindle and Nook 

SUNSET ORANGE CRUSH ~ $0.99 for Kindle and Nook 

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