Steph and I napped on the shores of Nice for a while, but I couldn’t sleep, and I didn’t want to wake her. Inspired by the Andy Goldsworthy documentary we had just watched, I began building tiny towers out of the round stones and driftwood littering the beach.
They started out as miniature monoliths, little experiments to see how high I could stack before they came crashing down. Eventually I started incorporating elemental shapes like spirals and stars, using the driftwood as shims to keep the stones balanced and upright.
Other travelers came to visit my miniature construction site: first an Englishman, then a French couple (“Je ne parle pas français!”), and finally a German matriarch with her three sons who eyed me curiously from a distance at first, but after a few minutes began supplying me with the choicest construction materials from her part of the beach. I thanked her with grand gestures—I guess that’s what you do when you don’t speak enough of the language—and set about new towers.
The woman watched my progress like a mother hen, clapping and smiling with delight, and gasping in despair when a tower collapsed. Steph woke up and wanted to take pictures, first of me as I was building, and then one of herself sitting next to a completed tower.
Before we left, we stopped by the German mother with her boys. And again, I offered my thanks.