The beach is one of the most joyful places on Earth for me as a father. I've been bringing my kids to the South Carolina beaches since they were born.
June, July and August are sacred months where my beasties are home from school with no schedules, no routines. Just lots of free time with me and a chance to create adventures both large and small.
We get to the beach several times a summer and end up building three of four epic sandcastles. I love working with the sand. The children have fed off that passion and learning how to carve towers has become a rite of passage in our family.
We build the castles just below the high tide line, so that we get to watch the waves take back our creations as the day ends.
Alexander considers the remnants of his towers after the waves have washed away most of his work.
Most of the hard labour is complete at this point. I have been working for several hours. Everyone else on the beach thinks I'm insane: sweating, digging and shoveling sand.
The first waves of a neap tide are filling up the moat. Some of my towers have already fallen as I have pushed the design limitation of my building material. Alex has a carving tool in his hand and a grin on his face.
The beasties work furiously on the their towers as the waves close in on the castle. The moat has been flattened and the bottom half of the castle has already washed away.
A surge of water surrounds the castle.
Isabel studies her work.
A dynamic sculptor in action.
I have poured myself a vodka tonic at this point. The kids have decided which tower they are living in - there is always a competition at the end to see which tower will last the longest. We are watching the slow destruction of our work. Many people stop to ask questions, admire the work, take pictures and comment on the design.
Isabel and Alex happily stomp through the deep moat I have dug around a pyramidal sandcastle. The sand from the moat is used to create the mound of sand. Layers of the mound are drenched in water and packed down by hand.
I left one side of the design "flat" with beach so that I would have access to the top of the mound where the towers are just beginning to be poured. Steps leading into the moat have not been carved yet.
Philip Williams is the author of The Griffin. He is also a sculptor, a painter, and the father of three amazing beasties.
Enjoy simple pleasures. Push the envelope. Love what you do. Take nothing for granted.
Never let go of hope. One day you will see that it all has finally come together. What you have always wished for has finally come to be. You will look back and laugh at what has passed and you will ask yourself, 'How did I get through all of that?'