It seemed like a simple task. All I needed was one of those kits that have a bucket, a shovel and a few tools, the kind they sell at Walmart every Summer, and some sand. That’s it. Simple enough. How hard could it be to build a sandcastle anyway? At least that is what I used to think up until a couple of years ago when l I signed the family up to take a sandcastle building lesson.
That day I learned that it was a lot more complicated, but a lot more of fun as well. The tools, while still simple, were not at all what I had pictured in my mind. Mark had a full size shovel, some paint buckets and for sculpting, a plastic fork, knife and spool; with a few modifications to the fork and knife.
It was about that time I also learned that building a sandcastle wasn’t just dumping a bunch of sand in a pile and packing it down. The best sand seemed to be right on the edge of the water and a few feet down. Mark dug a hole and scooped out some sand and made some sand pies. Kind of like making mud pies when I was a kid. However, it is not always the best place with the waves crashing in and filling the hole with water.
Next we had to scope out a good spot to build our castle. Then we learned how to mix the sand, make and stack the patties and sculpt. Seems easy right? Well, you have to make sure there is nothing in the sand, like seaweed. You have to make sure you shake the patties to get the air bubbles out, then once stacked make sure it is solid enough to carve. And, that it doesn’t get too dried out while you are creating you sculpture. Otherwise it will crack and crumble.
As we were stacking our patties I learned another key component to building a sandcastle; the story telling. Mark was really great at story telling and it made the day more entertaining. The next thing I knew we had sandcastles in the sand. While they may not have been the prettiest ones on the beach, we definitely felt like we accomplished something. More than that Kat and Christina had a lot of fun and it was a great bonding experience.
Mark said it just takes practice to get good. Sounded like a great excuse to make more trips to the beach the next year. Overall, I have a much greater appreciation for the art work I see when we are strolling along the beach. Kat started college in Corpus this year, so it gives us more opportunities to go down and play in the sand. Who knows, maybe we will get good enough to enter an amateur contest one year. For now I just leave it the professionals at the annual Texas Sand Fest they have in Port Aransas.
If you would like to learn more about Mark, he has a blog with photos of others enjoying playing in natures sandbox.