A House For Hermit Crabs

Lila chose A house for Hermit Crab tonight.  And that moment when Hermit crab leaves his too small shell behind I had a flash of a day this summer, and the ones before when, our family left the lake, for a single summer day at Ferry Beach.  It is a small beach on the edge of a bowl opposite the ramp where fishermen launch and moor their boats.  When the tide pulls out, you can see the way they hollow the sand in that bowl.  Barnacle covered rocks and mooring anchors are exposed  and the shallow water pulls all the boats, chained at the bow, around till they point inland.

This is the best time to arrive, on a morning when the tide is out so there is room to walk with toes sifting through soft, fine sand.  When the tide is in we walk through the water, the narrow strip of beach so full of blankets, babies, buckets and such, no land path remains.  So we walk, carrying or bags and blankets, towels and treats past the piece of beach that parallels the tiny parking lot out to a sandy knoll that overlooks the inlet itself where tidepools wait.                                                                                    

 The kids head right in, eyes in the water, between the crevices and rocks and seaweed, searching for anything that moves. . Hermit crabs are the gold nuggets of this mining expedition.  Joey and Charlie dig a hole and build up the sides on the sandbar, "It's a castle for Hermit crabs!"  They scan and sneak their hands in, trying to be stealthy, and snatch the shells from the water to place them in the castle.  One boy stays on guard to make sure they they have plenty of water, (and don't try to sneak out).  There are short breaks for swimming, sunblock, and snacks, but the kids are steadfast in their mission and proud of their work.  They call me from my warm perch on the now sand scattered blanket to check out their treasure.  We were all circled, squatting, kneeling, backs bent and noses down watching the crabs when we saw it.  The one crab who had decided his shell was a little snug, and it was time to leave his too small shell behind!  "Just like in a House for Hermit Crab!"

Now the mission changed course, "Let's find some empty shells!!"  This was a good plan for Lila who wasn't yet ready to pick up the shells that tickled back with crab legs surprise.  But before long, the shifting sun and tides remind us that time has passed. Another day is done, and we must change. . .out of our suits of sand and salt, and into soft dry clothes and sandals.  Our snacks are gone, it's time for a seafood supper, and a happy tired ride home till next year. . .

These pictures are my best from a few years ago, but we make this trek at least once every year since we discovered this treasured spot.


Alan Wright said...

You have painted this scene the way an artist paints a landscape. Living close to the sea as I do, the connections were all the more vivid. Loved the alliteration-'out of our suits of sand and salt, and into soft dry clothes and sandals.' Loved the photographs. Loved the capturing of this special time. A well crafted piece all round.

Amy Boyden said...

Thank you for this Alan! As a newish writer, it is nice to hear when I have painted a picture for someone.