This is day #4 that we have been at this oasis--and it is the first that I felt that I've been able to relax. I have not slept well (or, really, at all) since we've arrived, I've been on edge, and my mind has been unable to find repreive from its usual spinning. Unable to put my finger on the cause for my restlessness, today it finally stopped at a moment I didn't see coming.
After a restless night, this morning I woke up to the sound of my daughters arguing. The arguing continued off and on throughout breakfast and the early stages of preparing to head down to the waterfront. Finally, after I finished the laborious task of slathering on the SPF 50,000,000 sunscreen on the wee ones, Jonathan took 2 of the girls with him and started off. I shmootched lotion on myself (because I'm a pale red-head who burns at the first suggestion of sun), then on my eldest daughter, gave her a pep talk to hopefully snap her out of her argumentative funk, and we too plodded with beach towels and buckets to the water.
Unfortunately, my pep talk did little good. She was just as grumpy and back-talky once we arrived. So Jonathan took her off on a walk down the beach to collect shells, while I stood in the waves with the littest two. We squeeled as the waves plashed up against our legs. Then we dug a little wading pool that filled with each wave's arrival. As the water receded , a glittering caught my eye. I looked down at the sand. Instead of smooth sand, the glittering at first looked like sea shells swept up and abandoned by the tide. But the shells started to move, to wriggle and scurry, burying themselves into the moist sea bed. Not sea shells, these were hundreds of sand crabs. All displaced by the water from their shallow homes beneath the sand's surface, they hustled to reburrow back down into their hiding places.
Another wave crested, swept across the shore, and a slew of sleek, gray, glistening bodies appeared for only moments before scuttling back down out of the sun. I watched it again, and this time brought it to the attention of my girls. They squealed with not-quite-delight. (Not surprising. They're afraid of house flies and stink bugs, why would they tolerate sand crabs?)
I grabbed one of our diggers, and at the next wave, I scooped up what ended up to be 4 of the little crabs. I pulled a little wriggling crab out and, with my daughter's hand cupped in mind, placed the crab in her sand-caked palm. The crab, with nothing to dig into, went completely still. Both of my girls stared at the little gray body.
"Now, go take it back toward the water. Let it go back to its home," I told them. They ran about 5 feet away, to the wetter sand, and released it. It disappeared within seconds.
We spent the next hour catching and releasing sand crabs. Jonathan and the not-grumpy-any-more eldest arrived and joined in the hunt. And in the glittering sand, the crash of waves, and the squeals of my children my restlessness evaporated. Whatever it was inside me that needed to find its footing, found it. And I drew a deep, peaceful breath for the first time.
PS: If you follow me on Twitter or Tumblr, you'll see I've been posting pictures of our beach adventures (Tumblr is where I always post my Instagram pics--FYI). But here's a few for you to enjoy. Be well, friends!