Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Constantly washing up on the white sand beaches where I grew up were tiny clams called coquina. It's not hard to get tossed along by the drag of the sea when you're so small, and each retreat of the waves would leave the sand strewn with their soft pastel shells. They would immediately and speedily rebury themselves in the dirt, heading back toward the water. It was easy to find them if you dug up a whole deep shovelful of sand, but individually they were always a lot faster than we were, always just below where we thought they would be.

Near the roots of the mangrove trees on the bay coast behind my grandparent's house lived sand crabs, who vanished almost as suddenly as they were seen into holes they'd dug in the ground. Sand crabs can hold their breath for six months, and so they had no interest in popping back out to check if we were still there. Where the ground had once been covered with scuttling legs was suddenly only emptiness and dismayed seabirds. I like to imagine them gossiping by clicking their little claws and listening closely at the walls of their tunnels, talking in crab Morse code.

In China, Scott and I met a man at a noisy crowded nightclub who had learned English in Ireland and therefore tried to speak to us in a garbled Chinese-Irish accent. The only word the three of us had in common was "Budweiser", but it seemed to be enough.

No comments: