As the evening light faded, the thin layer of water left over from each wave shimmered like glass in the twilight. If we concentrated, we could barely see the mine field of ghost crab pits along the shore. All sizes of ghost crabs were visible perched on the edges of their holes, silent white spiders that would often streak across in front of us to be enveloped by a wave. I was barefoot.
I walked slightly ahead of my three companions, partly so I could be more free to adjust my footing should there be any unexpected conflict. Fearless husband was hunting the crabs, spooking them, then blocking their access to the safety of the ocean. He was uncannily able to respond to their quick sideways skittering movements with his fast tiptoe footwork. I wondered that he never stepped on one. He would have to fight his own battles, though. I needed to keep my eyes on the beach in front of me.
All of a sudden, a half-dollar sized crab was racing within a couple of inches of my feet! There were no other walkers near us to send him fleeing in my direction, but he came directly to me. I began my own wild dance, accompanied by high pitched tribal yells of war. He seemed to be in sync with me, matching my rhythym and moves, caught in the ritual against his will. We circled, facing each other, each frantic to escape. I was bouncing vertically on the balls of my well trained feet, while he somehow mimicked my movements with his own horizontal panic.
Finally, he broke free from the spell and flashed into the nearest wave. As my heart rate returned to normal, my companions strolled up behind me as if nothing unusual had happened. I, on the other hand, was having visions of herds of crabs arising from the inky black sea to my right. The thin forest of trees to the left on the shore line was surely a hiding place for creatures to stalk unsuspecting walkers. I walked on, focusing ever more intently on the ground in front of me. It’s not that the dark is scary, but I don’t like my toes being tickled by things I cannot see!
(photo of crab taken two evenings later by stalking with a flash)