As a pastor, Mondays were Dad’s day off. On those days, we would pile into the jeep with our swimsuits on, no sunscreen, and filled with impatience for the 20-minute drive to the beach. Who knew it could last so long? It was my favorite day and I was eager for it to get started.
Often Dad would check to make sure no Portuguese Man-of-War had littered the beach from a recent storm. In my memory, this occurred only once. When that happened we couldn’t swim as they were deadly and would lurk in the water or be strewn across the beach.
Dad, in a mixture of vengeance and glee, drove up and down the beach, laughing uproariously, popping as many as he could — to our delight and Mom’s horror. This particular day though was perfect. Warm breezes, empty expanse of beach, small waves, mesmerizing tidal pools.
I loved to sit at the edge of the waves and build my sandcastles. Already at six or so, I knew the perfect ratio of sand and water to dribble into as many tall spires as possible for my beautiful castle. I would dig a moat and pile up a wall of sand to protect it from the rising tide.
Sometimes I would misjudge and the waves would come crashing over the retaining wall, spoiling my work. This day I was almost done with my hard work and I saw a wave rushing toward me, ready to do damage. In desperation, I put my hand out and said, “Espera aí!” or “Wait there!” in Portuguese. I could swear that wave receded immediately. But mom, more world-wise, laughed at my naïveté and the next wave washed over my work, to my disappointment and defeat. Like I’ve said, I have a flair for the dramatic.
Soon it was time to go searching for the tidal pools. They weren’t always there because the tide had to be out for us to see them. I would become absorbed in exploring those mesmerizing, fascinating, and mysterious worlds of tiny fish, shells, crabs, seaweed, and starfish.
They were fun to splash in and grasp for slippery minnows, try to spot a sand dollar, or collect intriguing shells and small stones. Years later when I read C.S. Lewis’s “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”, I could clearly imagine a whole underwater world of tiny kings and queens, shaking their swords. After all, as a young child, I had created my own world within those captivating tidal pools.