Monday, December 8, 2008


"In all this sober glory, something surprising appeared. At this desert trickle, beneath this cyclone fence, behind a young rock, I saw motion. Along came a blue crab. It picked it's way down some sharp grains between rocks and settled in to work the area. The crab's shell was five or six inches long from tip to tip. It's blue-and-white legs minced on their points; it squatted to feed. Why are you wandering around in the desert, I thought, instead of swimming in a Chesapeake slough, or in a pot of steam? In fact, freshwater crabs are a delicacy; the Chinese, especially, prize them.
I looked for someone to show. In all the immense space under the dry sky, only one distant man was walking, probably one of the Dutch- speakers.
And what should I call out to him? "Mynheer!" I shouted. He made his way to me over the bare ground. I showed him the crab. He was gratifyingly amazed- a big blue crab in the desert. The crab was easing itself along the chips and sand the water wetted, behind the cyclone fence. Its eyes moved on stalks. The Dutchman, too, looked for someone to show, but saw nobody. We discussed the crab, I think, and the sight of the crab.
Possibly the magnificent accent with which I'd shouted "Mynheer" impressed him, for he spoke dutch, none of which I understood. I spoke English, which he doubtless understood. His tanned face showed pale creases everywhere, in the sun, he had laughed. Pleased, he thanked me, and before wandering off he looked at me significantly. So: his look said, we meet. So: in this queer bare spot, home of nobody under the sky, two humans stand side by side to look at a crab.
Later, I thought: This fleet meeting was not so deep as, say, a marriage- but it had its moments. Who are we people? "

-Annie Dillard

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