If you’re not careful, it can feel like an act of futility: Since the end result falls under the old adage that nothing good can last, why exert yourself? Why lug the pails full of sand only for the tide to wash it away? For 43 summers now on a beach in Nova Scotia, there’s an afternoon when humankind’s urge to etch something permanent on the face of history is defeated. A scant handful of sun-baked hours when children and adults, artists and hobbyists, tourists and locals—over 10,000 of them, according to HRM’s estimations—break a sweat on the sand, creating metres-high castles, sculptures of Spider Man complete with seaweed “webbing”, even tributes to the revellers no longer able to join the fun.
This year, the Clam Harbour Beach Sandcastle Competition returns on Sunday, August 13 at 9:00am—something devotees doubtlessly already know, as the planning stages of this year’s creations will, by now, be well underway. (You don’t create an entire waist-high chessboard out of sand without some preliminary sketching, as past winners will note.)
But by nightfall that same day, all evidence of another year’s worth of artistic expression will have vanished—as ephemeral as summertime, or even as life itself.
It could feel like an act of futility. But don’t let yourself confuse it for some funhouse version of Sisyphus. Maybe nothing good ever lasts; maybe everything beautiful is gone in one gulp. But just maybe the fact that it happens at all can be enough.