I was watching the sky and sea from my favorite spot on the rocky point of the West Haven beach yesterday, lost in a pitiful cynicism about the future, when I was surprised by the sudden appearance of a girl in pink, maybe 9 years old, her hands held cupped together. As if we were old friends she asked if I wanted to see a crab, which of course I did. She opened her palm and a dime sized white crab crawled sideways off her finger onto mine. I'd never seen a crab so small. She told me there were hundreds of them in the ditch nearby, and she led me there, down to the water, showing me how to step without slipping.
We returned the tiny crab to the puddle she had found it in and built a house of stones and shells to hide it from the seagulls. Then we overturned rocks to find all kinds of other crabs which scrambled out over our shoes, and she identified each one in scientific detail. I'd been in that ditch dozens of times and never noticed them before.
A man in a wheelchair above called to her. We climbed back out and I thanked her and said goodbye. She picked up a seagull feather on the ground and gave it to me, and said maybe we'd meet again in the ditch. I saw then that the man she was with had neither of his legs. He turned his wheelchair and she followed him away, looking back at me until we were out of sight of each other. She seemed more then a girl. She spoke like a 65 year old marine biology professor. She was kind and careful with me like a grandmother. I'm not really sure she wasn't a spirit, or a Bodhisattva maybe. In any case, I left feeling a pang of loss, but also great wonder, and a restored sense of peace.
I return to the ditch in hopes of finding her again. But so often we are ships that quickly pass.