wasting an afternoon

rivulets wind through the sand.

we dig deeper, create more channels.

the water melts the sand and creates a smooth lining for each meandering brook.

our small hands plunge into the dirty sand and wildly attempt to keep up with the cold water.

we build structures with that which was once an obstruction to a now-flowing branch.

the sand piles get higher and more intricate as we drizzle the wet mud to make spires and columns.

We begin smoothing the sand around the structures to create driveways and roads.

Leaves are picked and placed just so to represent landscaping.

As we work, the walls of our channels weaken from the constant flow of water and we need to pause in our city expansion to rebuild.

Basins and bays are created at the sides of the sandbox as the constant flow of water washes over the sand and floods against the wooden edge.

Twigs and leaves are sloshed along the rapids.

Slowly our massive structures give way to the lap of the water eating at their bases.

Our trucks and boats begin to wash over the sides of our play area.

We can’t contain the mess, so we begin to shove our masterpieces into gullies and smack the mud into the water.

The slapping of the mud spatters us with the carnage of our civilization and we laugh.

Our motives are finally questioned when a shout comes from the house to quit wasting water and clean-up.

We toss the hose from the sandbox and, leaving our swamp behind, rush to turn off that which birthed and destroyed an entire village in one afternoon.

This post was written in response to the picture below.

About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.


  1. I love where you went with this! Also, how awesome is it that this made us both think of childhood? 🙂

  2. I think that you have a typo. Shouldn’t it be that “which” and not with…

    rush to turn off that with birthed and destroyed an entire village in one afternoon

  3. That read like poetry! I loved it. I was engaged in it and wishing my hands were making the sandcastles.

  4. Oh, and by the way, that was in no way wasting an afternoon. That was ENJOYING an afternoon. 🙂

  5. Love. Don’t you miss the freedom and innocence of those days?

  6. I remember doing this same thing in the backyard. All was well until you uncovered a present from the cat!

    I really loved how you described building the structure. A few lines had me a bit confused and I had to re-read them. But that’s probably because it’s 6:30am.

    “Our motives are fully questioned when a shout comes from the house.” THAT was funny.

    Loved it.

  7. This was beautifully written. Completely took me in. xo

  8. That was so much fun as a kid. I felt like I was playing with you. Or at least wish I was. 🙂

  9. Definitely not a wasted afternoon! Love this. “The slapping of the mud spatters us with the carnage of our civilization and we laugh” <–great line!

  10. Is there a reason you didn’t use caps in the first 6 sentences? It distracted me because I wasn’t sure if this meant something and I was missing it.

    I needed to read this piece twice to really appreciate the pictures that you were painting – and you did paint them quite beautifully. But for some reason, I kept disconnecting. I think it may be the structure of the paragraphs.

    Absolutely loved this –

    “We toss the hose from the sandbox and, leaving our swamp behind, rush to turn off that which birthed and destroyed an entire village in one afternoon.”

  11. I’m with Kelley. I think it read like poetry. I really enjoyed your descriptions. Felt like I was there.
    And, like Angie, I did wonder why the first few lines started with No caps and the rest had caps. I felt it must have meant something, possibly a way to ‘build’ the intensity? However, I really have no idea.

    Loved every word though!

  12. Katie…
    You always manage to pull me right into your words…to make me remember my own childhood.
    It makes me sad to think that my children, as products of California suburbia, may not share those experiences.

    I love that while this is just a story of playing outside in the water and sand, it *isn’t* just about playing outside in the water and sand.

    You did a lovely job of weaving deeper meaning into your piece.

  13. this is like poetry, katie. lovely images. lovely meaning.

  14. I was in that sandbox with you, wow…what lovely words and what wonderful prose. I enjoyed every single line.

    Plus I heard your mom yell out to you…was right there. 😉

  15. Who knew an afternoon in the sandbox could be so poetic?

    This is great, Katie, and takes me back not only to MY childhood but to when my kids were small and our sandbox was often an entire village or planet.

  16. Honest Injun’, this makes me want to build Joshua a sandbox. STAT. Not a sand table. A for-real sandbox. There’s something about reading other’s childhood memories that makes me want to have Joshua have those memories, too.