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Wednesday, May 11, 2016


I cannot believe it's been nine months since I wrote a blog post. I lost a year of my life moving from a big home in the country where I had lived for 34 years to a smaller home in the city. 

But here I am...finally.

What got me back to my blog was the wondering clanking around inside my head. I am wondering: how many times do we have to learn the thing we already knew?

This is what I just learned, yet again: DO IT NOW. A bunch of crabs taught me....

My husband, Mike, and I just returned from a vacation to Florida, where we spent almost a week with our friend Tina, our grandchild Liam, plus our son Charlie, his wife Katie, and their sons Oliver, David, and Simon. 

With such a motley crew, all movement toward adventure was cumbersome. But Tina and I are nature nuts and we were determined to squeeze as much plant and animal life into our days as we could. (Our own kids used to complain during Florida trips when they were little, "Not another nature park!")

On one of our last days there, Tina and I decided to snorkel around a mangrove patch nearby, where we had snorkeled 20 years ago. Mike offered to drive us, so we grabbed our snorkels and masks and started walking to the car.

Our hotel sat on the Intercoastal waterway, and we could see the tide was going out as we approached the parking structure. We looked down from our walkway to the re-emerging sand a few feet below, and saw them: hundreds of fiddler crabs.

They were busy with the work of low-tide fiddler crabs everywhere: building, guarding, and fighting. 

Most were digging hidey-holes. In and out they skittered, toting balls of sand out from within their lairs. They deposited the little sandballs nearby, and as they continued, neat piles accumulated, like small weak versions of the stone walls that demarcate farmers' fields in Ireland. 

The crabs that had finished building their shelters stood guard. Many of them raised their one giant claw (giant for them, miniscule for us human goliaths). As they lifted their claws in threatening posture, their whole tiny white bodies went tall and rigid.

Every minute or so, two crabs engaged in battle with their formidable weapons. What a scene! Action everywhere.

We watched for maybe ten minutes. We considered going back to the hotel room to fetch the big boys, Oliver and Liam, who would have loved to see the crabby battleground. So many of their fantasies and so much of their play involves fighting, weapons, enemies. We knew the two cousins were reading and playing quietly while Charlie and Katie rested in the next room with their two younger sons.

We decided against disturbing "quiet time" - surely we'd get another chance to show the boys the crabs. We went on our way in what proved to be a futile search for swimmable mangrove. The tide was out and our former mangrove snorkel area was temporarily muddy sand.

And you know what? We never again caught the same crab scene. We monitored the tides and returned time after time, with and without the children, only to discover one or two fiddlers, lazily poking around. We never again hit prime time in their workday.

Life goes fast. DO IT NOW!

Gail Grenier is the author of Calling All Horses, Dog Woman, Don't Worry Baby, and Dessert First, all available on (See links at right.)

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