en masse, hundreds upon thousands - maybe it's millions - they descend from the mountains at the first scent of rain, awaiting a favorable phase of the moon to keep themselves safe from the sea's threatening tides. perhaps they come down to shore to build above-ground nests or subterranean homes, to procreate or bury their eggs in the sand; the method to their madness is quite unclear to my simple, imaginative human mind. still, year after year they come, millenial generations of seasonal pilgrimage attuned to the cycles of the Earth, their careful prehistoric rhythm uninterrupted for eons, at least.
their unmistakable neon purple bodies and courageous sunset-orange claws set them apart from the crabby crowd; they're the mountain cave dwellers, quite unlike their sea-faring cousins. while i know little about them, i trust they know their place in the pecking order, their lives lived ceremoniously and only to fulfill their biological purpose, aligned with the bio-calendar of the Planet, which much of our species has unfortunately chosen to unlearn for ourselves, to the detriment of nearly all other nature-abiding life on Earth.
i love watching their little bodies dance and creep across the street, announcing the official end of summer and the start of the rains with perfect precision to put all human-made weather pattern predictions to shame. it's raining, the moon is waning, they're crossing, and that's all there is to know. because they can't not do what they were put on this earth to do. whatever that magical thing may be that keeps them coming, rain after rain, season after season, despite the many predators lurking in their midst. birds. larger reptiles. dogs. wildcats. racoons, perhaps. for some, death is certain. brutal, yes, but that's just the way nature works.
i look forward to their clawing little scuttlebug race each and every year, as if they're celebrating our shared survival beneath the scorching sun of summer, dry months of cloudless skies save the puffs of loose earth stirred up from our quickening tire tread as they paint the last bit of green a dusty brown, camoflauged against the otherwise leafless limbs of the stoic pochote trees standing watch along the roadside, bearing witness to our spiritless deeds, day in and day out.
do you see them? their tiny, impossibly brave bodies, fluorescent claws raised to the sky in the battle of their lives as they sacrifice their souls to your hurried pace, while you hide inside cars playing god in the rat race, careless in your easy machines of unnatural death and destruction misplaced? do you even pause to care as they crunch beneath your tires, threadbare, worn from the stones that seek to slow your incessant come and go - for what, and to where?
last night, i dodged a few of the brave as they traveled in packs and stood their ground, tappity-tapping their quick little legs, like a game of life and death. i swerved and slowed and smiled to myself, grateful for the season to come, and to the crabs for their failproof celebration of change. nostalgia played on the wind through my hair, and sadly, i knew, my joy at their ceremonious arrival, this season in particular, would prove inevitably short-lived.
this morning, thousands upon thousands of crunched purple shells, millions of defeated orange claws covered our freshly asphalted, no longer dusty road, i noticed, as the rubber soles of my motorbike traversed the flattened piles of them for the five long kilometers i drove halfway into town.
and the only solace i find at the sight of the mountain crab massacre, stinking carcasses unbearable as their spirits dance in funeral inside my nostrils, while i tread over the crumbs of their skin en route to surf the remnants of this dying summer swell, is the sinister smile i perceive on the satisfied lips of the bald-headed vultures, perched high, bellies undoubtedly full. they'll feast for days, ripping and slurping alongside the worms until the flattened remains of their prey become mud mixed with rain, sliming their way to the closest trickle stream, and eventually out to the shore and sea, to be surfed beneath the boards and squished between the toes of wayward sealovers living this unkind dream, paradise believers like you and me.