Ten of us in a loose gaggle, plus two dogs, noisily walked the hard sand closest to the surf, all family — brothers, sisters, a nephew, three wives and Tommy and Sam, 4 and 2, shining flashlights down and spotting ghost crabs, pale as the sand, scuttling away and occasionally challenging us with upraised pincers. The little boys wore green and red glowsticks on strings around their necks and alternately ran up and down or were carried and handed off, embrace to embrace, chattering always. From 100 yards away we would have looked like a malleable flashing creature, shape-shifting, roaming east and west, gliding along with murmurs and laughter. The surging rollers themselves looked white and ghostly under a quarter moon, stretching out in front and behind us.
Later in the week I watched a beach ball emerge out of the darkness, bouncing on the wind, startling the dogs, causing sighs among us; I watched my brother and his son hold an I-Phone up to the stars and use an app that synchronized the night sky to a map and thus they identified Arcturus and Vega. I saw Tommy come outside of himself with excitement while running with his flashlight and illuminating the ghost crabs as they retreated into the surf, their eyes on stalks peeking above the water, and again and again that week there was Sammy, looking around and saying in a rising pitch, “Woofie, ee ar u?”
First and last, there is family and the solace of blood-ties and the rapture of children.