Monday, June 22, 2015

One less

On the second day of our Fort Bragg camping trip, Dave and I took the four kids (ages 17 through 6) to Glass Beach.  They were exploring the rocks when three young siblings showed up with their mother and baby sister.  These were locals -- who seemed to understand things like "the tide" -- out killing time with a crab bucket.

Soon, all the kids were prying small, black crabs from the rocks and throwing them in the bucket.  The bucket's owner, a boy named Tommy, had a vision or master plan.  Because he enjoyed slimy things and exhibited the qualities of a leader, my daughter took to Tommy immediately as a kindred spirit.  Within minutes of meeting him, she was grabbing handfuls of crustaceans like she'd been doing it all her life, yelling "Tommy!  Pass the bucket!"

Meanwhile, my son -- who prior to this trip could not be roused from his Minecraft game for food or water -- was off climbing the sheer face of a cliff, which he had specifically been told not to do.  There was a sign about this very danger, in both English and Spanish, which depicted a Bart Simpson-like boy tumbling headfirst into the ocean as the cliff's edge crumbled.  First I read it to him in English.  Then I read it in Spanish, in a flamboyant accent that -- halfway through -- took too much effort, so I stopped.  "Los crumblos!" I paraphrased dramatically.

"No, I don't think that's . . ." said Dave.  Well, everyone got the idea.

Eventually, after a lovely time, we had to leave.  As he scaled a ragged wall of sand high above our heads, I yelled at my son a little bit, who looked bored because he was still alive.  So what was the big deal?

On the paved path above the beach, my daughter announced Tommy's plan for the dozens of crabs now squirming over each other in close quarters: It was to dump them into a single tide pool, where -- having been gathered from all over -- they would make a new life together, claw in claw.

"Probably some of them don't even want to be in there with all the others," Dave remarked to no one in particular, maybe just to see who would say what.

"Well, they're a family now," I said after a silence, "so they can lump it."  Probably the kids weren't even listening.  It was just one more obscure joke between the parents. 

"I'll tell you one thing," he continued.  "Somewhere in there's a guy who feels, right now, like one less lonely crab."

". . . You are my favorite grown-up," I said.

And then we all went to Starbucks to charge our phones.

(Image: "Fort Bragg, CA: Glass Beach, King Tide" by Ellin Beltz (public domain), via Wikimedia Commons)

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