Wednesday, 12 September 2007

An Antique Lover's Sandbox

For as long as I can remember, I have been drawn to the past. I am a lover of old homes, antiques and the simpler methods and lifestyles of the “good old days”. An object with a lengthy and colorful past emanates a warmth, charm and patina that simply cannot be duplicated or reproduced. Not surprisingly, my husband and I have been avid antique collectors for several years. Although we built a new home four years ago, we incorporated a number of reclaimed and antique materials into the construction. We were extremely fortunate to stumble upon a set of hand-hewn beams being salvaged from a crumbling barn in the Annapolis Valley. We integrated these beams into our downstairs living space, creating the illusion of an authentic post and beam frame. The leftover and unused beams were tossed in the backyard for unknown future projects.

This past spring, I decided it would be worthwhile to install a sandbox in our backyard. Chi-Chi adores working with sand. I knew a sandbox would provide endless hours of entertainment for both of my little ones. Although we live just a hop, skip and a jump from the beach, it is not always practical to make the trek to the shore with two small children. I printed a few sandbox plans off the internet and presented them to my husband one Saturday morning. He was assigned his “weekend project” and instructed to march off to the local hardware store to purchase the required supplies. Being a resourceful and creative man, he suggested we incorporate the remaining barn beams into the construction of the sandbox. What an ingenious idea! Not only did we save on material costs, we also “recycled” our beams. We were thrilled with the end results. The completed sandbox is simply beautiful and possesses a warmth and character like no other! The box is 6’X6’, which provides ample space for two to three children to play creatively and independently. The wide beams provide the perfect place for a tired mother to rest her laurels!

Chi-Chi and Muffy spend over an hour each day digging and exploring in the sandbox. Along with the traditional buckets and shovels, the sandbox houses treasures from our trips to the seashore. Both Chi-Chi and Muffy delight in discovering a scallop or moon snail shell while working away on their excavation projects. I too enjoy the sandbox and have discovered its therapeutic qualities. I often find myself getting lost in the relaxed, open-ended play opportunities that it presents. I enjoy assisting Chi-Chi with his elaborate road and trail systems and giggling at the grimace on Muffy’s face following a gritty bite of sand pie. Our sandbox is a soothing and peaceful spot for children and adults to pass the afternoon!

Once again, I am impressed with the play value offered by an open-ended, natural toy. The sandbox is truly a timeless toy that has stood the test of time. No doubt, we can all recall this much-loved favorite from our childhoods. This is a classic from our past that should be enjoyed by all and not reserved for the nostalgics!

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