Duxbury Reef

Low tide at Agate Beach, where there are very accessible tide pools on Duxbury Reef. Today is a super low tide at the end of May. I’m with my 5-year-old son and we are there counting species, making a game of finding the biggest variety. We are skipping over quickly to get to the wave boundary, thrilled with seeing that hidden underwater world revealed. Then with more focus we see a few scurrying crabs moving like nervous drumming fingers, then the hermit crabs black with worn streaks of pearl, the turban snail homes, tipping and balancing with the burden. We touch jade green anemones. They flinch as they contract like the sphincters they are. We flinch right back. Bright sea stars, purple and red, and orange bat stars catch the eye. Then the focus moves and we lose momentum, slowing, caught by the pull of the eye’s gravity. We are looking with more care and turn over a few rocks finding at once a brittle star moving, its pale blue snake arms in waves around its light brown pentagon body. A nudibranch, white with orange polka dots with fluorescent pink gills waves hello—goodbye in the surge. We look into a still pool and see the telltale sepia bloom of an octopus inking. I search digging around under a ledge with my fingers, careless of a pinch or a sting and pull the little fellow out. It’s gone ghostly white with shock. Then it flashes to brick-red. It just covers my palm. Waves of color flash over, like wind over spring grasses, pink then green ‘til it’s a mimic of my palm. It’s like a movie special effect, but its alive and doing all this to survive. We put it back watching it switching colors ’til it gets its bearings and paints itself to match the rock and seaweed and disappears invisible to the eye, but vivid and everlasting in memory.

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