No Fear

Every time we visit my dad’s house, the beach is a potent draw, and this time was no exception. It has everything that kids (and, I sometimes think, adults) really need to relax: water, rocks, and quiet.

It also has lots of tiny creatures. Most notably for our family, it has crabs. When the tide is out they like to crouch under rocks, away from the sun; turning over a hand-sized rock can send half a dozen little crustaceans scuttling for shelter. This by itself is good fun for children, and although I’ve outgrown my desire to make defenseless little creatures run in terror, I do remember that treasure-hunt pleasure of looking for a really big nest of them.

The boys have always been wary of holding crabs. Probably I shouldn’t have warned them, when the opportunity first arose, that the larger ones can pinch. They like seeing us with crabs in our hands, and were particularly excited when two of the larger ones, finding themselves in Dave’s hands, mistakenly took each other for the enemy and started to menace each other. But otherwise they’ve generally restricted themselves to the Turning Over Rocks part of the endeavor.

Not so with Mica. Maybe she’s just at the right age; maybe it’s her personality; maybe she’s been toughened up by having two brothers. She was happy to pick up crabs, even the big ones, and once Dave gave her tips on how best to do it (hint: take them from behind), she was almost unstoppable. Several times I heard her say “Ouch! He pinched me!” Then she’d go back for more.

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