We had arrived at the local raccoon dive bar. It was obvious by the presence of tracks all along the soft mud and the bits of human trash that had been ripped to tatters. No doubt, three hours later—just a bit after dark—the nightlife would begin. It didn’t matter, we weren’t there to socialize with a bunch of riotous raccoons. We were hunting clarity.
The Search Begins
“I’m the leader!” The boy called out, ten paces ahead. “It’s muddy,” the tot said in her scientific observation sort of voice. My feet sank just a touch into the dampness there, surrounded by fiddler crab holes. I could imagine then a full moon shining down on high tide, and there would be the raccoons cracking open a beer can left behind by a fisherman, and a few masculine fiddler crabs arguing over who had the biggest claw. Such vulgar crustaceans.
The tot complained about the wiry grass that we were passing through because it was just at the level to smack her in the face. It’s hard being short. It’s also hard being the tallest, because then you get to clean off all the spider webs with your head. I did a fine job of that as we curled around the land immediately next to the waterway.
The salt air was heavy, heavier than at the beach. The waterway holds the salt in a more stagnant way, like it is savoring it. “This will do,” I called out as we reached an odd sort of clearing.
A Perfectly Clear Day for Clarity
Moss hung all around us off ramshackle oaks that had been twisted by uncomfortably high tides. Odd heavy pieces of human debris were scattered every so often from the last hurricane—a bit of dock here, a strange piece of metal there.
Preferring the company of trees rather than debris, I dropped our bags atop the exposed oak roots. The water bottle and the books in the bags had been ensuring that my shoulders would be lopsided. Good posture is for people that don’t homeschool their children.
The boy got to work. The tot got to work not working. I looked around at our classroom. The sunlight was filtering nicely through the moss. An osprey was letting out a high pitched cry in the distance. The blue sky was reflecting in the water.
The tot began being busy with not working by sticking colored pencils in vacant fiddler crab holes. It was the definition of a beautiful day.
Murky, Muddy Fear
I had had my doubts lately, or rather, my fears. Life is complicated. As a child it seems like adults have a precise map that leads them through life. Unfortunately adult tools of navigation are crude at best, but I guess that is what is supposed to be exciting, right?
Anyway, I’d had my fears, but sitting there watching the tot make a modern art sculpture out of pencils and some crab houses, and the boy completing his school work outside of the confines of the house – I had a moment of clarity. A moment, because then I had to go rescue Old Man Dog from the quick sand at the oyster beds.
Things go into that mud, and they stay there, until someone jerks them out. I could envision the drunk raccoons making a
human raccoon chain to rescue their stranded brother. There’s Ricky Raccoon again, thinking he can mud-skate.
I got out my journal and did a sketch of the winter sky. It was pretty, but Old Man Dog bumped me and managed to leave a big mud smear across the page. An oyster mud souvenir. It suited the mood.
That mud souvenir muddled up that pretty winter sky, but who needs clarity anyway? Clarity only belongs with hindsight. Besides, the mud smear had little splatters that looked just a bit like fiddler crabs. I could see them arguing there in my winter sky.
Mine’s the biggest!
No, mine is the biggest!