All seasons are filled with wonder, but summer is especially magical when you are a child. It is the season of dripping ice cream cones (‘purple cow” being May’s favorite), blueberry picking in open fields, awakening to the songs of birds and going to sleep to the sounds of crickets, meeting friends in the park, flying colorful kites, and watching sea gulls face into the wind. But most of all, summer is journeying to beaches, lakes, ponds and pools.
Recently, as I sat on the beach in Falmouth with my husband, I paused to take notice of the young parents who arrived with children in tow. Wagons filled with sand toys, umbrellas, coolers, towels, and chairs (for both themselves and their children) were dragged along in their wake. As I watched in awe, my thoughts turned to a much simpler time when my husband and I brought our young daughters to the beach. We sat on a blanket, using our cooler and shoes to hold it in place against the ocean breezes, and our daughters played with pails, shovels and sand sifters. I couldn’t help but to marvel at how many new beach items have come to market since our children were young: tents, beach carts, coolers that transform into tables, “boogie boards,” “noodles,” “windbreaks,”… The list is seemingly unending. As each family tugged and pulled their beach paraphernalia an image of nomadic people in search for an oasis came to mind.
Some things however, have remained constant. Digging in the sand, hunting for sea glass, skimming flat rocks over the water’s shimmering surface, collecting seashells, and running in and out of waves as they wash over the shore have been, and continue to be, favorite pastimes of children.
With respect to these time-honored activities, I offer one more that kept me entertained as a child and that I have passed down to my children and grandchildren.
Materials: g coins or small trinkets, shovel and sand sifter
When I was a child, my parents, who had six children, resorted to a variety of tricks to keep us entertained while at the beach so that they might have some “down time.” Unbeknownst to me, my dad, while I wasn’t looking, hid pennies in the sand surrounding our blanket. He then told me that people often buried treasure in the sand and if I dug around I might find the hidden artifacts. He would direct me to one place where I easily uncovered a penny. This sparked me onto looking for additional treasures and kept me entertained for quite a while, allowing my dad a few moments to read one of his four daily newspapers.
Now, as a grandparent, I am able to witness the excitement that my parents before me must have enjoyed as they watched their young daughter dig for buried treasure. As I reflect on this memory, I find myself wedged between two pleasant worlds, the past with my father and the present with my granddaughters. What a lovely place to be.
Using glass beads or small trinkets that can be purchased at a nominal cost at Oriental Traders, Christmas Tree Shops and Party City, to name a few, make the treasure hunt even more enticing and is sure to add to the day’s fun. Hiding dinosaur figures can act to motivate children to learn more about these “terrible beasts.” I would recommend that some sort of “sand-mark” be used as a tool for helping you remember where the artifacts lay hidden.
Whatever trinkets you opt to hide in the sand, watching the anticipatory look on your grandchild’s face as he/she sifts through the sand is the greatest treasure of all.